An Open Letter to Pastor Rick Warren

I would like to offer my heartfelt condolences at the loss of your son this week. I cannot imagine the pain the tragedy has created in your family, as well as with your friends and flock.

Suicide is a painful situation for any family that experiences it: whether it is created by mental illness, drug addiction, or a sense of helplessness. It is unfortunate that those who complete suicide feel that there is no way out, or simply, things will not get better. Please note that I say complete suicide in order to eliminate the judgment of the person's decision.

I hope that you understand that your religious rhetoric contributes to the suicides of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth each year. When an LGBT youth is rejected by their church and family, as well bullied at school, they think there is no hope. When they hear their pastors say that "... a civil union is not a civil right. Nowhere in the constitution can you find the 'right' to claim that any loving relationship is identical to marriage. It's just not there," this makes LGBT youth think it will not get better.

Pastor Warren, I am sure you recognize the quote; you created it. Unfortunately, it is this type of message from the pulpits in America, and beyond, which helps create an environment where LGBT youth believe suicide is the answer.

LGBT youth complete suicide more frequently than the broader community. Family Acceptance Project at California State University, San Francisco, conducted the first study of the effect of family acceptance and rejection on the health, mental health and well-being of LGBT youth. Their research shows that LGBT youth "who experience high levels of rejection from their families during adolescence were more than eight times likely to have attempted suicide, more than six times likely to report high levels of depression, more than three times likely to use illegal drugs and more than three times likely to be at high risk for HIV or other STDs" by the time they reach their early 20s.

Those who grow up in families where the church is a core of their existence, the church is extended family. Therefore, what is said from the pulpit is as important as what is said by their parents. Rejection by the church leads to rejection by parents, which leads to a higher rate of LGBT youth suicide. A equals B, B equals C, therefore A equals C, the simple transitive property. Q.E.D.

Pastor Warren, the next time that you preach against LGBT equality, I hope you remember that it is helping to create a societal environment that causes LGBT youth to commit suicide.

I am sure you do not wish that upon any family.