Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Degree Level



School of Social Work


John Gallagher

Committee Member

Kim Stauss

Second Committee Member

Ananda Rosa


LGBTQIA;Queer;Religion;Resilience;Social work;Trauma


Many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (or questioning), intersex, and asexual people (LGBTQIA+) experience religious trauma caused by the harmful messaging often aimed at sexual and gender minorities. Identity dissonance can be created when LGBTQIA+ people find their religious and sexual or gender minority identities at odds with each other. A review of existing literature revealed themes of identity erasure, internalized homophobia, and resilience, but there was limited research involving this population. This qualitative study centers the voices of those who have experienced religious trauma based on their identities and works to understand their healing journeys. Fifteen LGBTQIA+ individuals participated in semi-structured interviews wherein five main themes were identified: anti-LBGTQIA+ messaging, internalized homophobia, resilience, self-acceptance, and pathways forward. This study adds to the current body of research and relies on minority stress theory as a framework to better understand the experiences of this marginalized population. Highlighted herein is the need for clinical social workers to engage in culturally competent practice and social justice advocacy for the dignity and worth of this population.