Date of Award

January 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Danya E. Keene

Second Advisor

Trace Kershaw


Parental acceptance is a key factor in bolstering the health and well-being of LGBTQ+ individuals across their lifespan (Needham & Austin, 2010; Ryan, 2010; Jin, 2020; Clark et al., 2021). One factor known to influence parental acceptance is family religiosity, which has typically been associated with conflict and/or rejection (Ryan, 2010; Johns & Hanna, 2012; Roe, 2017). The purpose of this study was to better understand faith navigation and acceptance processes among active Mormon mothers of LGBTQ+ individuals in an effort to inform public health engagement with highly religious parents of sexual and gender minority children. In-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with 20 mothers from Mama Dragons, a nonprofit organization that seeks to “educate, support, and empower mothers of LGBTQ children'' (Mama Dragons, 2021). Specifically, mothers from the ‘Mamas trying to stay [in the LDS church]’ private Facebook group were selected to participate in order to capture the perspectives of a highly religious and highly accepting group of mothers. Abductive analysis was employed to elucidate novel findings through use of grounded theory methodology and bring these findings into conversation with existing theory (Timmermans & Tavory, 2012). Findings revealed four meaning-making processes (e.g. learning, unlearning, reconstructing, and redefining) that mothers utilized to navigate identity conflict, acceptance, and faith reconstruction, with the ultimate goal of cultivating a deep, abiding love for their children. This finding, framed through bell hooks’ Love Ethic, suggests that love among this group is not only a feeling but an ever-evolving skill that can be taught, learned, and practiced over time. Importantly, findings suggest that mothers’ coping strategies to navigate identity conflict and further acceptance of their LGBTQ+ children through these four meaning-making processes involve a variety of faith-based levers including close readings of religious texts, conversations with God, personal revelation, and conceptualizations of biblical justice and Christlike advocacy.


This thesis is restricted to Yale network users only. It will be made publicly available on 05/19/2024