Summarized by Kent Larsen
LDS Parents of Gays Challenge Church Pamphlets
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- In a press conference scheduled to coincide
with the LDS Church's General Conference, three LDS couples,
including former LDS Bishop David Hardy and his wife, questioned the
LDS Church's continuing use of four pamphlets that they said were
hurtful to the parents of homosexuals and their children. All three
couples have children that struggled with homosexuality, and the
struggle led the Hardy's son to attempt suicide.
Hardy claimed that the pamphlets, "To Young Men Only," "To the One,"
"Letter to a Friend" and "For the Strength of Youth," cause "parents
to condemn and turn against their gay children, destroying real
families, and drive our gay children to self-loathing, despair and
suicide," according to Hardy. He criticized Elder Boyd K. Packer's
"To Young Men Only" for its portrayal of a young man hitting his
missionary companion and knocking him to the ground to "defend"
himself against homosexual advances. "It is difficult for us to
understand," said Hardy. He questioned the distribution of the
pamphlet in the wake of the murder of Matthew Shepherd, a Wyoming
student who was beaten to death because he was homosexual. Shepherd's
grandmother is an LDS Church member and raised him as a young boy.
In a statement to the media on Friday following the press conference,
Harold C. Brown, Director of LDS Church Welfare Services did not deny
that the pamphlets are still being distributed. "These are
individuals who are children of God. We love them; we respect them,"
he said. "This church is a church of inclusion, not exclusion, and we
welcome them and want them to be a part of the church."
But another of the couples calling attention to the problem, Gary
Watts and his wife of Provo, Utah, told reporters at the press
conference that conciliatory statements by LDS leaders, including
President Gordon B. Hinckley, only heighten the problems with the
pamphlets. He said President Hinckley's statements were markedly
different than "these pamphlets which characterize our children and
other gay and lesbian youth as selfish, perverted, abominable and
under the control of Lucifer . . . . "
The three couples say they have had multiple contacts with LDS
General Authorities and have written many letters seeking a response
to their concerns, only to be met by "at best, kindly indifference."
Hardy says he realizes what might be at stake because of the way he
handled this complaint, "We realize that many will think it is
improper or confrontational for us to resort to a public statement on
this issue," said David Hardy. His wife Carlie added, "If we get
excommunicated for loving our son, then so be it."
Parents of Gay Children Call LDS Pamphlets 'Insensitive'
Salt Lake Tribune 7Oct00 N1
By Bob Mims and Peggy Fletcher Stack: Salt Lake Tribune