In my Christian denomination, which is Catholicism, there is significant emphasis on protecting all human life, from conception to a natural death. However, some of us only talk about abortion, while in the process ignoring a variety of other pro-life issues.
With LGBT Pride Month having drawn to a close, I want to put a spotlight on a pro-life issue that rarely gets discussed among many pro-lifers: the treatment of LGBTQ+ people. How is this a pro-life issue? I’ll tell you.
The statistics on LGBTQ+ people and suicide are absolutely staggering. According to The Trevor Project, LGB youth are three times as likely to contemplate suicide, and five times as likely to actually attempt suicide, as heterosexual youth. 40% of transgender adults also attempt suicide.
It is no coincidence that suicide attempts and rates are so high among LGBTQ+ people, because this population experiences high levels of rejection. This rejection makes a major difference in suicide rates—”LGB youth who come from highly rejecting families are 8.4 times as likely to have attempted suicide as LGB peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection.” The same goes for transgender individuals: rejection from family is one reason why somewhere between 32% and 50% of transgender individuals in various countries attempt suicide.
On the other hand, people within the LGBTQ+ community who experience little or no rejection from their families often have much better outcomes. According to the National Institute of Health, “Social support from family is found to be a general protective factor which is associated with reduced risk for lifetime suicide attempts among transgender persons.” Many other organizations, including The Trevor Project (which I cited earlier), note that low or no family rejection significantly reduces suicide risk for lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals.
I could cite even more statistics and quotes, but my point is that the treatment of LGBTQ+ people could save (or take away) many lives.
While being accepting and even affirming of someone who’s not “straight male” or “straight female” may go against some people’s personal or religious beliefs, such affirmation is extremely important.
I understand that there is a conflict-of-values here with LGBTQ+ issues for many individuals: supporting “right to life, from conception to natural death,” on one hand, and the moral difficulty of someone identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or some other identity, on the other hand. This conflict may make some of us feel uncomfortable. However, I challenge us to break through this discomfort and uphold the dignity of all individuals, including people who identify as LGBTQ+.
Having just one accepting adult in the life of an LGBTQ+ youth can reduce the risk of a suicide attempt by as much as 40 percent. If you know an LGBTQ+ child, I beg that you be that accepting adult in the child’s life. This acceptance may literally be life-saving.