Exploring possibilities for LGBT youth programing in religious spaces : a study of the Episcopal Church
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This thesis weaves together scholarship in religious studies, sociology, social work, and psychology to explore the history and landscape of the Episcopal Church and youth ministries to argue for introducing ministerial programing interventions to support the needs of religious LGBT youth. As Christian denominations have grappled with questions and stances on sexuality and theology, few well-established religious traditions have engaged as committedly and as supportively as the Episcopal Church. Through examining the current arrangement and desired outcomes of youth ministry in the Episcopal Church, this thesis demonstrates how LGBT youth-specific outreach fits within the scope of engaging adolescents and the various factors that may promote or limit the development of such programs. As emerging evidence has shown, reconciliation of sexual minority and religious identity can protect against negative psychological and behavioral outcomes. Development of affirming and supportive groups are a critical possibility for promoting the integration of a religious and sexuality identity, supporting LGBT youths’ needs, and reducing LGBT stigma in the religious community and society at large.