By Alex Cooper
UNITED STATES (Advocate Channel) — A new study from the Trevor Project has highlighted the comfort some LGBTQ+ youth find in religion and spirituality.
The Trevor Project is an organization that provides crisis services to LGBTQ+ young people and also conducts research on queer youth and their experiences.
In the study published on Wednesday, the organization conducted research on the religiousness or spirituality of queer youth and how that relates to mental health outcomes. It’s based on a survey conducted from September to December of last year with almost 34,000 youth along with the 2020 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey. The study did not ask respondents which religion or spirituality they practiced, the Trevor Project states in the research.
The report notes that religion can be “fraught topics” for queer people due to the discrimination emanating from certain religious groups, and many of these groups still exclude LGBTQ+ people.
“Historic conflicts between religious communities and LGBTQ people have created a common misconception that LGBTQ people cannot be religious or spiritual,” the Trevor Project’s report states.
The group found that 21 percent of LGBTQ+ youth reported that their faith or spiritual tradition was either important or very important to them. Older youth between the ages of 18-24 reported this more than younger people. Those youth who are less financially well-off reported higher rates of putting importance on their religion. Of those who found importance in their religion, a majority of them live in the south. Native or indigenous queer youth reported the highest rates of religion being important or very important.
Queer youth also said that they prayed, meditated, or privately reflected on their religion at least once a week if not more frequently.
Youth that said their religion was important or very important to them reported lower rates of depression than compared to those who said religion wasn’t — 55 percent to 58 percent.
“These findings demonstrate that, despite commonly held perceptions that put religious and LGBTQ identities at odds with one another, many LGBTQ youth report that religion or spirituality is important to them,” said Myeshia Price, director of research science at The Trevor Project, said in a statement. “Further, LGBTQ youth who said that their religion or spirituality was important to them reported slightly lower rates of depression compared to their peers. However, these data suggest that the relationship between religious and spiritual importance and mental health is complex, and requires additional investigation.
Price added, “Ultimately, we hope religious and spiritual leaders use these findings as a call to action and work to ensure that their congregations, communities, and traditions are welcoming and inclusive of their LGBTQ members.”
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