California Lawmakers Accuse Religious Groups of Contributing to LGBTQ Suicide Rates

The California State Assembly has passed ACR 99, a resolution that blames religious groups and so-called conversion therapy for high suicide rates within the LGBTQ community. Further, the resolution encourages all Californians “to embrace the individual and social benefits of family and community acceptance” of LGBTQ people.

The resolution, which is non-binding but expresses the sentiments of the Assembly, reads: “The stigma associated with being LGBTQ often created by groups in society, including therapists and religious groups, has caused disproportionately high rates of suicide, attempted suicide, depression, rejection, and isolation amongst LGBTQ and questioning individuals …”

Although the resolution lacks the force of law, Glenn T. Stanton, director of family formation studies at Focus on the Family and a Federalist senior contributor, believes that it could lay the foundation for future legislation.

“To be clear, what they’re proposing is a resolution and would not have the razor-sharp edge of law,” Stanton wrote. “But it would have the real and devastating blunt force of state-sanctioned shaming of religious conviction. They couldn’t criminalize you, but they could obliterate your reputation and your life. … Of course, this resolution will grease the skids for it becoming enforceable law.”

Nicole Russell, a frequent contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog, wrote: “It’s one thing to advocate for the safety of the LGBTQ community, it’s quite another to target a very specific group, religious people, in California, to demand they conform to certain speech and behavior.”

California lawmakers did not include any scientific evidence in support of their assertion that suicide rates among LGBTQ communities are linked to religious teaching. In fact, a study conducted by David M. Barnes and Ilan H. Meyer in 2012 showed that individuals identifying as LGBTQ are 2.5 times more likely to attend churches that hold to a Biblical view of sexuality rather than churches that affirm homosexual behavior.

In another study published in the “Archives of Sexual Behavior,” researchers found that in the Netherlands, “The Gay Capital of the World,” suicide rates among gay youth and adults are still disturbingly high. “Even in a country with a comparatively tolerant climate regarding homosexuality, homosexual men were at much higher risk for suicidality than heterosexual men,” the study states.

Additionally, conversion therapy, a catch-all term that has come to mean any form of verbal disagreement with homosexual behavior, has become a misleading but useful term to LGBTQ activists.

Stanton added, “We must admit that something else is driving the tragically high suicide rates of our gay and lesbian neighbors, and it’s not traditional faith convictions.”