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Conference aims to 'build bridges' between LGBTQ community, LDS Church

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A conference held in downtown Salt Lake City is hoping to break down barriers between the LGBTQ community and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Photo: KUTV)

A conference held in downtown Salt Lake City is hoping to break down barriers between the LGBTQ community and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"A Spiritual Home: Building Bridge for Sexual and Gender minorities in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" will be hosted in partnership with Mormon Building Bridges, a grassroots organization dedicated to making the community a welcoming place for LGBTQ people, and the Tanner Humanities Center at the University of Utah.

“In the established tradition of the Tanner Humanities Center and the Mormon Studies Initiative at the U, this conference is organized around the philosophy that open and honest dialogue can shed light in dark corners and produce greater understanding,” Paul Reeve, Simmons Chair of Mormon Studies and director of the Mormon Studies Initiative, stated in a press release.

“In that spirit, leading experts on a variety of LGBTQ topics related to the Latter-day Saint tradition will come together with a shared goal of breaking down barriers and opening new spaces where hope can flourish.”

The two-day conference will be hosted at the Salt Lake City Library.

Schedule of Events:

Friday, Sept. 27

7 p.m.: 2019 Sterling M. McMurrin Lecture on Religion and Culture, “Limits and Possibilities: Mormonism, Gender and Sexuality” by Taylor Petrey

Saturday, Sept. 28:

  • 9-10:40 a.m.: Keynote “Custodians of Doctrine and the Work of Empathy” by Philip Barlow followed by a panel discussion.
  • 10:55 a.m.-12:15 p.m.: Panel “Trafficking in LGBTQ+ Mormon Stories”
  • 12:30-1:45 p.m.: Lunch plenary “Creating Inclusion and Overcoming Bias: How Stereotyping Works and What We Can Do About It” by William Cox
  • 2-3:30 p.m.: Panel “Queer Religious Trauma and Post-Traumatic Growth”
  • 3:45-5:15 p.m.: Panel “The Case for Queer Inclusion and Religious Liberty”

“This forum will bring together academic, ecclesiastical and community voices in a way that can broaden what is too often an entrenched debate around the experience of queer people and the Church of Jesus Christ,” Erika Munson, co-founder of Mormons Building Bridges, stated in a press release. “In an address in 2017, Elder M. Russel Ballard identified the importance of LGBTQ Latter-day Saints having ‘a spiritual home’ in the church. Without minimizing the conflict or offering simplistic solutions, this gathering has the potential to dig deep into new ways of thinking about the issue.”

The conference comes after a public hearing was held about conversion therapy.

The Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing heard comments about the controversial practice during the morning meeting Thursday.

Gov. Gary Herbert directed the agency to develop rules to address and govern the therapy. Proposed rules include disciplining psychologist who try to change a minor's sexual orientation or gender identity. This could go into effect as early as Oct. 22.

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