Stephenie Larsen is a busy mother of six. When she isn’t wheeling across town, dropping her kids off at school or sports, she runs a support network for gay youth.
Larsen opened the nonprofit Encircle LGBTQ Family and Youth Resource Center in downtown Provo, Utah, in February. The center aims to be a safe, open environment for LGBTQ people in this deeply religious community, and offers individual therapy and group counseling services, as well as a variety of daily activities.
Utah is the home of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and an overwhelming majority of people in Provo are Mormon. Though LDS church leaders maintain that same-sex attraction is not a sin, members are expected not to act on such feelings. The church also opposes same-sex marriages.
Larsen, herself a Mormon, says she doesn’t have a gay child and doesn’t identify as LGBTQ ― but over the years, she witnessed the church’s fraught relationship with the gay community affect family after family, until she felt she had to do something. Read more via HuffPost