Confirmation programs are not equally safe for all people. Queer teens’ faith and lives are precarious. Surveys suggest about 8% (3.2 million) of US youth identify as Queer; of this group 52% are youth of color (MAP—Movement Advancement Project). Studies show that 73% of LGBTQIA+ youth report experiencing discrimination, and 45% contemplated suicide this past year, with 20% of transgender or non-binary youth attempting suicide. Numbers are higher among youth of color (The Trevor Project).

Suicide is already the second leading cause of death among US teens (CDC, Hedegaard et. al. 2018), and Queer youth are 4 times more likely than their peers to attempt suicide (CDC, Johns et. al. 2020). Sources of resilience (processes “of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or even significant sources of stress” (APA)) mitigate these risks (PubMed, Rennie, Dolan 2010). QC models for church leaders or parents a way to be a source of resilience for youth, mitigating some risks by building community and skills. QC’s content, skill-building (e.g. de-escalation or bystander training), and worship rituals fill some of the gap between precarity and resilience for Queer youth.

This project is timely, as changing legislation threatens basic freedoms and protections for Queer Americans. Queer teens face increasing, legislated vulnerabilities. Christian Century reported that Queer youth are almost 2x more likely than their peers to quit church (Post, 2020). Non-affirming messages from Christians further isolate these youth. Queer teens need brave spaces where they can assume unconditional positive regard so that they can focus on asking the questions that frighten them, risk encountering a moving Spirit, and open themselves to relationships and ideas rife with significance. None of the confirmation curricula reviewed identify Queer authors (representation matters), address Queer religious concerns, or include Queer pedagogies.

One in five (21%) LGBTQ youth reported that their religion or spirituality is important or very important to them. (The Trevor Project 2022)

LGBTQ youth who reported that their religion or spirituality is important or very important to them reported significantly lower rates of symptoms of depression (55%), compared to their peers for whom religion and spirituality were not at all or only a little important (58%). (The Trevor Project 2022)

Queer youth and their faith are at risk. Queer teens navigate a world where they can experience discrimination, a church that is inconsistently affirming, and people who press them with questions about faith and identity that peers do not face. These specific concerns, needs, challenges, and threats have resulted in barriers to their presence in Christian spaces.

While QC cannot fix all wrongs, it will provide space to explore and know God’s affirming love and promote teens’ sense of belonging within the Christian faith and Christian communities.


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