By Trudy Ring
Originally published on Advocate.com April 28 2014 7:02 PM ET
The Mormon Church today changed the wording of a sexuality question on an online survey of young church members, shortly after it was reported that the original question discouraged respondents from identifying as anything other than heterosexual and characterized “same-sex attraction” as something a person must “struggle with.”
One question on the survey, aimed at members of the millennial generation, originally asked “What is your sexual orientation?” and gave the following options for answers:
I am heterosexual, but I struggle with same-sex attraction.
I am heterosexual and do not struggle with same-sex attraction.
Other, please specify:
The questionnaire is designed to screen respondents to see if they are eligible to participate in a focus group on millennials’ views on marriage and same-sex attraction. The problematic wording was first reported Friday by The New Civil Rights Movement, which noted that the survey was sent to some students at Brigham Young University, which is affiliated with the Mormon Church.
The wording was changed today “to better convey the intent of the question,” a church spokesman told The Advocate via email. The question now reads, “Do you experience same-sex attraction?” and the answers are “yes,” “no,” and “other,” with the “other” option including “space for a respondent to provide any context or explanation they wish,” the spokesman said in the email.
“The survey is part of the church’s broader research to understand the attitudes and opinions of millennials,” he added.
For a brief period over the weekend, the survey included an option allowing respondents to explicity identify as LGBT, according to a Monday afternoon report from The New Civil Rights Movement. The site obtained a screen shot of the question appearing Sunday with its original wording – “What is your sexual orientation?” – and the original answer options plus one: “I consider myself homosexual, bisexual, or transgendered.” By today, this option was gone, and the question and answer options both replaced with the “Do you experience same-sex attraction?” wording.
The Mormon Church, known formally as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, opposes marriage equality and same-sex relationships in general. “Sexual activity should only occur between a man and a woman who are married,” reads the church’s website. Church members were some of the strongest supporters of California’s Proposition 8, which temporarily revoked marriage equality in the state.
However, the church hierarchy has taken conciliatory attitudes toward LGBT people on some issues. It supported an ordinance banning antigay discrimination in employment and housing in Salt Lake City, where the church is based. Some activist groups, such as Affirmation: LGBT Mormons, Families, and Friends, are advocating for LGBT equality within the faith.