New LGBT Center Will Open Next to LDS Temple

In a town that is in the heartland of Mormonism, the Mormon temple in Provo is on the verge of getting a new neighbor, the Encircle LGBTQ Family and Youth Resource Center.

The Encircle LGBTQ Family and Youth Resource Center in Provo, Utah, is planned to open on February 10, 2017.

New LGBT Center Will Open Next to LDS Temple[/tweetthis]

On their website, Encircle promises to focus on family, youth and the community in Utah with LGBTQ members who do not have anywhere else to turn to. The website states the following regarding the youth, “We seek to reduce the risk of suicide for SSA/LGBTQ+ youth and prevent youth homelessness by always working towards family reunification, and by providing access to private counseling, support groups, acceptance and love. We want all youth to learn to love themselves.”

One of the volunteers at the center, Trevor Johnson commented, “For LGBT youth who grow up in the Mormon Church, there can easily be a feeling of resentment or anger towards the church for not making them feel welcome, safe or accepted.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) has had a long history with homosexuality and the LGBTQ community. For instance, the church has a “Law of Chastity” which states, “Sexual relations are proper only between a man and a woman who are legally and lawfully wedded as husband and wife.” This means that the Church expressly forbids all other forms of sexual relations.

The LDS Church has had a history of teaching members that homosexuality is a curable condition. Its position changed and the church now officially believes that no one chooses to be gay and that any advocacy for a form of therapy as a means of curing an individual is unethical. In 2015, the LDS went a step further and ruled gay couples in the church are apostates and that any children under those unions would not be baptized, confirmed, ordained or allowed to participate in any mission service before becoming an adult and getting consent from the first presidency.

This is the environment the LGBTQ center, to be opened in February, will find itself in. Stephenie Larsen, the executive director of the center remarked, “There’s a need. You know, there’s nowhere currently that these kids can go that offer a no-judgment zone where they can feel the love and support of the community. And so that’s what we’re trying to provide.” Johnson, the volunteer at the center added, “Like my own story, I think anybody who is gay and is struggling to come out – loneliness is, I think, the biggest and most destructive piece.”


As the LDS Church has gained popularity in other countries and continents across the world in places such as Africa and Latin America, there has been a push to resist the current supremacy or dominance of the traditional family set up in the church. Recently, the church has begun to soften its stance and open its doors to the LGBTQ community.


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