A new study from the Trevor Project, a crisis support organization for LGBTQ+ youth, has shown that religion and spirituality bring comfort to many LGBTQ+ young people. The study, published on Wednesday, investigated the religiousness or spirituality of LGBTQ+ youth and its impact on mental health. The research was based on a survey of almost 34,000 youth conducted between September and December of last year and the 2020 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey.
The study found that religion is often a “fraught topic” for queer people due to discrimination from certain religious groups. However, 21% 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 higher rates of religious importance than younger people. Youth who were less financially well-off also reported higher rates of religious importance, with a majority living in the South. Native or indigenous LGBTQ+ youth reported the highest rates of religion being important or very important.
These youth also reported that they prayed, meditated, or privately reflected on their religion at least once a week or more frequently. Those who said that religion was important to them reported lower rates of depression compared to those who said religion was not important to them, with 55% reporting lower rates of depression compared to 58%.
Myeshia Price, Director of Research Science at the Trevor Project, said in a statement, “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.” Price added, “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.”