The Impact of Religious Trauma on the LGBTQ+ Community: A Systematic Review
Religious and spiritual practices have shown to be an integral part of developing positive health and mental health outcomes for many individuals; however, evidence shows that this is not the case for most LGBTQ+ individuals. Adverse religious experiences can lead to religious trauma which has significant and profound impacts on spiritual and sexual identity development, mental health outcomes, and social and family support. Trauma-informed clinical interventions have shown significant reduction of poor mental health outcomes; however, the efficacy of these interventions are undetermined in response to religious trauma. The current study involved a systematic review to determine the impact of adverse religious experiences on mental health outcomes within the LGBTQ+ community and to examine the clinical outcomes and treatment of trauma related to negative religious experiences. Of 383 articles identified and screened, 17 articles met eligibility guidelines. The current review found that the majority of LGBTQ+ individuals faced adverse religious experiences manifested by microaggressions and abuse within a religious setting, rejection based on sexual identity, conflict between religious identity and sexual identity, and extent of rejection of religious practice throughout the lifespan. The impact on mental health included increased rates of depression, anxiety, internalized sexual stigma, suicidality, substance abuse, and high-risk sexual activity. The study also determined a significant lack of research conducted to determine the outcomes of clinical treatment of religious trauma within the LGBTQ+ community.