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As we go through life, we each try to make sense of our world and identify the truths by which we live. We propose that the key principles by which we live can be called our core truths. We form our core truths as we have experiences that suggest to us that what we believe is valid, right, good, or useful. We typically turn to parents, family members, friends, religion, spirituality, science, the humanities, our relationships, and/or our past experiences to evaluate the soundness or rightness of our beliefs. One reality is that over time, our core beliefs may change or evolve, especially if we have powerful life experiences that either affirm our beliefs or cause us to question what we know is true. As researchers and persons with our own sets of foundational beliefs, we seek to understand how others make sense of their core truths.

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How we speak about things matters. Language has been and continues to be used as a means of marginalizing or subjugating people and this is true within the LGBTQAI+ community. Because of this we have been thoughtful and intentional in our use of language in order to utilize the most inclusive language that demonstrates our LGBTQAI+ affirmative stance. We also know that some of the language used may not fit for you or your experience. For example, there may be some of you who do not identify as LGB but experience same-sex attractions. Additionally, our use of queer as a sexual identity is intended to encompass sexual identities that may fall outside of the male/female gender binary. Here are a few key definitions that will help you understand how we are using language in this study:

LBGQ: We intentionally choose to utilize the identity markers of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer in order to demonstrate our allyship and affirmative position.

Same-sex attracted means having sexual or emotional attraction to someone who is the same-sex as you. We hope that if you do not identify as LGB but experience same-sex attraction that you will fill out the survey and indicate the sexual orientation identity that closely relates to your same-sex attraction.

Celibate means not engaging sexually with another person.

mixed-orientation relationship is defined as one partner who is heterosexual and the other partner is same-sex attracted/LGB+.

Lesbian refers to a cis-gender and/or transgender female being sexually and emotionally attracted to other women.

Gay indicates a cis-gender male and/or transgender male being sexually and emotionally attracted to other men.

Bisexual is defined as a cis-gender male or female who is attracted to cis-gender men and women.

Asexual identity is simplistically defined as the absence of sexual attraction or interest. It is important to note that this identity has received little attention in research and is only now being studied, which is expanding our understanding of the complexities of what is known about identifying as asexual.

Within this study Queer is reference to sexual orientations or identities that include attraction to non-cis-gender people. For example, a cis-gender female attracted to trans, genderqueer, and cis-gender women. Or a cis-gender male attracted to trans, genderqueer and cis-gender men. 

Transgender refers to a person whose gender identity is not the same as the sex they were assigned at birth. Gender identity describes one’s innate sense of being male or female. A transgender man is someone who was assigned female at birth but actually experiences himself as male, and a transgender female is a female identified person who was assigned male at birth.

Genderqueergenderfluid, or gender nonconforming people reject the male-female binary and instead identify a number of ways within or beyond the gender spectrum. These people sometimes also identify as transgender but also may not. 

We understand that sexual identity is unique from gender identity and that they also may influence each other. For example, a transgender male may have attractions to cis-gender females and therefore identity as heterosexual. However, this is just one possibility and all sexual identities are possible for trans* and genderqueer people.


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Beth identifies as a white, lesbian, cis-gender female with roots in Christianity and a current spiritual practice more in line with Buddhism. She is a licensed relationship therapist and professor working with the LGBTQAI+ community in clinical practice and through research. Beth’s interest in this research project is in supporting the continued exploration of the intersections of religion and sexual and gender identities. She sees this research as valuable for training, supervision, and clinical practice in order to support affirmative practices that are informed by the lived experiences of current and former LDS members.


Mark is a cis-gender heterosexual man and active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He has degrees from Brigham Young University and Kansas State University. He is a professor, licensed marriage and family therapist, and researcher. His research and professional interests concern social justice and the well-being of LGBTQ+ individuals.



Tyra is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate and a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Associate working as a School-Based Therapist in Asheville, NC. Tyra received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Queens University of Charlotte and Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Capella University. Tyra is currently pursuing her PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy at Northcentral University and looking to further her understanding of the intersection of religion and sexual minority identity. Since her clinical internship, Tyra has found a majority of her work has been helping members of the LGBTQIA+ community navigate the challenges of integrating their own sexual minority identity with their religious identity. As a self-identified sexual minority and member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), Tyra has a strong passion for helping individuals live a life that reflects who they are and full of joy.

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