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New Study Addresses Sexual Minorities Who Reject LGB Identity

April 22, 2021
04222021POINTBLOG

by Andrè Van Mol, MD

A new study authored by a socio-politically diverse team of psychologists evaluated a religiously diverse population sample of varied sexual identification and found that sexual minority people who reject LGB identification have positive outcomes that contradict the expectations of both minority stress and sexual identity development theories.

“Sexual Minorities Who Reject an LGB Identity: Who Are They and Why Does It Matter?” by Rosik, Lefevor and Beckstead was published in the Spring 2021 Issues in Law & Medicine.[1] These researchers are among a larger team that did similar studies on a sample obtained largely from the Mormon population.[2],[3] This is their first study to look at other religious groups within their sample.

Working with a sample size of 274, the results revealed those rejecting LGB identification were more likely to be religiously active, church members in good standing and highly religiously intrinsic and theologically conservative when compared to individuals who embraced an LGB identity. They also tended to be single and celibate or in an opposite-sex relationship; reported “slightly” more lifetime opposite sex attractions, fantasies and behaviors (though both groups claimed mostly same-sex attractions, fantasies and behaviors); and reported greater interest in having children and a child-focused family life compared to the LGB identifying group.

Interestingly, and in contradiction of scholarly opinion, minority stress theory and sexual identity development theory, rejecting LGB identity was not associated with worse depression, anxiety or social flourishing compared to the LGB identified group. Though life satisfaction was ranked higher for those who identified as LGB, the difference “was not interpretively meaningful.”

The authors note that research in this field usually addresses only the LGB-identified with sampling usually restricted to LGB networks and locations, thus leaving sexual minority individuals who refuse such identification as non-entities. This results in the severely compromised data and study conclusions that prevail in this field, which then are used to influence legislation and healthcare recommendations. The researchers attribute their team’s own socio-political diversity with granting them the trust of and access to conservative sexual minority networks who might otherwise be highly inclined to decline involvement in such studies conducted by more ideologically narrow investigators.

Both the LGB accepting and rejecting groups claimed moderate levels of resolution regarding conflicts between their sexuality and religious convictions and similar levels of social support (“both felt their needs for connection and intimacy were being met”). Sexual identity development theory proposes that underdeveloped sexual identity might lead to LGB rejection in that group, who would then be likely to adopt LGB identity as they mature. However, the mean age of the LGB espousing group was younger (39.9), and the mean age of the LGB dismissing group was older (44.98). The authors noted that the group rejecting LGB identification more likely did so out of harmony between their conservative religious values, the community it provided and their own sexual experiences, not immature sexual identity.

As for the higher internalized homonegativity in the LGB label rejecting individuals, negative health outcomes were not a result. Again, social support and connection through the religious communities were suspected as positive contributors. The researchers bravely noted the possibility that LGB-rejection and heterosexual identity prioritization represented “principles religious conviction more than health-diminishing shame or self-loathing.” Well said.

The authors conclude by warning against the assumption that theories and constructs acquired from LGB-identified population samples necessarily generalize to sexual minorities who reject LGB identity. They likewise caution against using studies derived from or dominated by LGB-identified individuals rejecting or alienated from traditional faith communities for crafting laws or advocacy that affect sexual minorities in traditional religious communities. Calling out the tribalization of legal and mental health organizations, the psychologists propose that legal, official and clinical guidance must be derived from data from population-based samples able to identify non-LGBT sexual minorities or those that deliberately recruit such individuals. Mental health professionals are instructed not to assume religious conservative sexual minorities are harming themselves by rejecting LGB identity.

The Rosik, Lefevor, Beckstead study sheds light on the nature, health outcomes and significance of sexual minority individuals who reject LGB identification. The results for this group are not inferior to those embracing LGB identity and can produce social flourishing and life satisfaction. Researchers, legislators, organizational heads and healthcare professionals must be made aware.


[1] Christopher H. Rosik, Ph.D., G. Tyler Lefevor, Ph.D., & A. Lee Beckstead, Ph.D., “Sexual Minorities who Reject an LGB Identity: Who Are They and Why Does It Matter?” Issues in Law & Medicine, Spring 2021, Volume 36, Issue 1, Article 2.

[2] Lefevor GT, Sorrell SA, Kappers G, Plunk A, Schow RL, Rosik CH, Beckstead AL. Same-Sex Attracted, Not LGBQ: The Associations of Sexual Identity Labeling on Religiousness, Sexuality, and Health Among Mormons. J Homosex. 2020 Jun 6;67(7):940-964. doi: 10.1080/00918369.2018.1564006. Epub 2019 Mar 8. PMID: 30848999.

[3] G. Tyler Lefevor, A. Lee Beckstead, Ronald L. Schow, Marybeth Raynes, Ty

  1. Mansfield & Christopher H. Rosik (2019): Satisfaction and Health Within Four Sexual Identity Relationship Options, Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, DOI: 10.1080/0092623X.2018.1531333.
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About Andrè Van Mol, MD

André Van Mol, MD is a board-certified family physician in private practice. He serves on the boards of Bethel Church of Redding and Moral Revolution (moralrevolution.com), and is the co-chair of the American College of Pediatrician’s Committee on Adolescent Sexuality. He speaks and writes on bioethics and Christian apologetics, and is experienced in short-term medical missions. Dr. Van Mol teaches a course on Bioethics for the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. He and his wife Evelyn —both former U.S. Naval officers—have two sons and two daughters, the latter of whom were among their nine foster children.

1 Comment

  1. Avatar Steve Willing on April 23, 2021 at 12:08 pm

    Good article, Andre

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