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Savannah at the Utah Pride Festival. Savannah Heather

PROVO, UT, June 20, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Homosexual activists and their liberal allies are acclaiming the videotaped “coming out” testimony of a 12-year-old Mormon girl who declared she was lesbian in a church service. But two Mormon pro-family leaders are decrying the girl’s mom, who recently came out as lesbian, for sexualizing and exploiting her vulnerable daughter. 

“Why are her mother and father, and why is everyone else, so eager to sexualize and exploit this vulnerable young girl in this way?” wrote Janice Graham, co-founder of Standard of Liberty (SOL), a pro-family Mormon group, in a blog post titled “The Sexualizing of Savannah.”

On Sunday, May 7, Savannah Ward, age 12, read a prepared speech at a Provo Utah LDS [Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints] church meeting, “where once a month any and all congregants are invited to share their brief testimonies of Jesus Christ with the group,” according to Graham, a committed Mormon.

Ward told the church service: “I believe I was made the way I am, all parts of me, by my heavenly parents … They did not mess up when they gave me brown eyes, or when I was born bald. They did not mess up when they gave me freckles or when they made me to be gay.”

Homosexual sites like Towleroad celebrated the preteen lesbian “coming out.”

On the videotape of Ward’s speech, her microphone appears to be shut off, and then a discussion between two male elders ensues, after which one says, in part, “I have no doubt that Heavenly Father [the Mormon term for God] has made us all unique in different ways and for that I am grateful.”

Girl’s mom is an activist

Ward has reportedly been encouraged in her young “gay” life by her mother, Heather. The Huffington Post reports that Heather said her daughter actually initially “came out” as a lesbian last year. The website shows a photo of the girl at a Utah homosexual “pride” festival wearing a “Mighty Queer” tee-shirt and rainbow-colored leggings.

Huffington Post reports: “Savannah’s mother, Heather, told HuffPost that Savannah first came out in June 2016, telling her that she ‘felt alone in her thoughts, that the other girls all had crushes on boys, but she didn’t, she liked the girls.’ Heather responded by telling her daughter that she loved her, and assured her that she is perfect the way that she is.”

This is only the latest story involving parents who encourage their children to pursue LGBT lifestyles. LifeSiteNews recently reported on a Canadian couple who successfully encouraged their eight-year-old son to be a “drag queen”, “gay” slang for a female impersonator. 

As with the drag queen story, pro-family critics are declaring young Savannah’s parents’ publicizing their daughter’s alleged “lesbian” identity to be a “form of child sexual abuse.”

“As a wife of 43 years, mother of 7, and grandmother of 25, and simply as a female, I see any exposure or encouragement of lesbianism toward this tender, immature girl as a despicable form of child sexual abuse and a cruel miscarriage of healthy, normal, and fulfilling womanhood, proper marriage, and motherhood,” said Janice Graham. 

“The gay lifestyle, besides being sterile, oversexed, and basely pornographic, is fraught with greatly increased physical, emotional, and spiritual dangers,” she added. “Shame on parents, shame on our culture, shame on everybody who has any part in encouraging it.”

Graham’s own son overcame homosexual desires and is now married to a woman with children. 

Stephen Graham, Janice’s husband, noted that despite the widespread, LGBT-sympathetic publicity of Savannah Ward’s church “testimony,” there has been no statement condemning, or even addressing it, on the official LDS “newsroom” website. The Mormon Church has been softening its opposition to homosexuality in recent years, under pressure from pro-“gay” Mormon groups.

“There won’t be an official [LDS] response. They won’t say a word about it,” Stephen Graham told LifeSiteNews. “Their attitude seems to be: ‘Let’s not say anything about it, and maybe it will go away.’”

That leaves rank-and-file Mormons confused about church teachings on homosexuality, he said. Traditionally, the LDS church has strongly opposed homosexual “marriage” and all same-sex behavior as a “sin.” The LDS church has encouraged followers to donate millions of dollars to support pro-natural-marriage amendments in states across the United States.

Janice Graham writes that Savannah “spouted Mormon gay activist talking points straight out of the proverbial gay pride handbook. She even had the temerity to lecture the audience on being careful what they say.”

The girl was asked to take her seat, “much too late,” said Graham.

Changed culture

Janice Graham notes that her own son’s “road to repentance” of his homosexual lifestyle and his subsequent heterosexual recovery “was difficult and heart-wrenching. That was 15 years ago. How our culture and environment has changed since then!”

She said, “It is easy to see how many parents, like Savannah's, are taking the easy road these days, especially in light of the attention, popularity, and ‘compassion’ people get for coming out as gay — at any age.”

“I see such parents as cruel and exploitive,” she writes. “Note the two and one-half million views their video has and the overwhelming supportive and gushingly flattering comments. If that's not attention I don't know what is.”

Both Grahams told LSN that the youthful “coming out” was obviously staged and well-planned for maximum media and online influence. Janice said such church “testimonies” are never pre-written, and that Mormon church services are not supposed to be videotaped.

She writes that “there is so much more to this story nobody is asking about or telling,” such as: “Does this young girl even know what lesbian means? She says she doesn't like boys and wants to hold hands with and kiss girls. Here, a very normal feeling has been sexualized. 

“There is often great affinity between same sexes, and often great trepidation toward the opposite sex, at this early stage of puberty. Has everyone forgotten this? I experienced it and so did my children. How has Savannah's normal relationships and sexual development been interrupted? Child abuse? Peer abuse? Pornography?”

But Savannah’s mom, Heather, told Huffington Post that “Savannah had been asking to share her story in front of the church since last January to possibly let other closeted church members know that they had an ally in her.”

Heather Ward said she was in “awe” of her daughter’s performance in the church, telling Huffington Post:

“She is brave and courageous. I would have been terrified to get up and say something so close to my heart for fear of what people think. I’m proud of her, even now, she doesn’t want any of this to be about her, she wants it to be about protecting other LGBT kids. She wants her story told so that this doesn’t happen to other kids. She said she is both happy and sad about the whole thing. Happy because she ‘feels free’ happy because part of me can look at her as a gay person, and see she’s no different than anyone else. She’s sad because she was going to share a story where the church accepted her with no question.”

Other liberal and pro-LGBT sites echoed the theme of Savannah Ward as “brave” for declaring her alleged lesbianism.

A different approach

But Janice Graham, as the “mother whose child was exposed to homosexuality in his teens,” said after getting over the initial shock, “I was hit with the heartbreak of his compromised safety and innocence. His developing sexuality had obviously been messed with.”

She writes that her job as a “responsible parent” was to find out the “full extent of his exposure to homosexuality” and “how had he gotten these wrong and dangerous ideas?” 

Then she and husband Stephen set about the task of helping their son “unlearn those wrong ideas and reinforce the correct attitudes and roles his dad and I modeled.”

“Nowhere do I see any of this happening in Savannah's case. How tragic!” she writes. “I learned that homosexuality may only be a symptom of deeper misconceptions and problems that need to be addressed as soon as possible, or worse things could happen.” 

Janice Graham writes that Savannah’s parents “helped her through multiple rough drafts” (see the girl’s full testimony below).

“So here we have a prepared speech, a carefully thought-out exploitation of a sacred religious meeting for selfish reasons in order to persuade the unwitting captive audience (they didn't come to church to hear that kind of thing) toward an opposing worldview, all about something that everyone else keeps very private, all with the encouragement of her parents,” she writes. 

“Does this young, physically undeveloped girl know anything about human sexuality or the sex act and what it is for? Does she know anything about being a wife and mother? What gender roles and attitudes toward marriage and motherhood have been modeled?” she notes. “She is obviously a precocious, impertinent, presumptuous, and curious adolescent. Why are her mother and father, and why is everyone else, so eager to sexualize and exploit this vulnerable young girl in this way?” 

The following is Savannah’s “coming out” speech, May 7, 2017, in Provo, Utah:

My name is Savannah and I want to share my testimony with you.

I believe I am a child of heavenly parents. I don't know if they talk to us, but I feel in my heart that they made me and that they love me. I believe I was made the way I am, all parts of me, by my heavenly parents.

They did not mess up when they gave me brown eyes, or when I was born bald. They did not mess up when they gave me freckles or when they made me to be gay. God loves me just this way because I believe that he loves all his creations.

I do believe he made this way on purpose, not part of me is a mistake.

I do not choose to be this way, and it is not a fad. I cannot make someone else gay and being around me won’t make anyone else this way. I believe that God wants us to treat each other with kindness, even if people are different, especially if they are different. Christ showed us this.

I believe that we should just love. I believe I am good. I try my best to be nice to each other and stick up for those that are hurting. I know I'm not a horrible sinner for being who I am. I believe God would tell me if I was wrong.

I hope someday to go on dates, go to school dances, to hold hands and to go off to college. I hope to find a partner and have a great job. I hope to get married and have a family.

I know these dreams and wishes are good and right. I know I can have all of these things as a lesbian and be happy. I believe that if God is there, he knows I am perfect, just the way I am and would never ask me to live my life alone or with someone I am not attracted to.

He would want me to be happy. I want to be happy. I want to love myself and not to feel shame for being me. I ask you all pay close attention to what you say. You never know who is listening.

I had dreams of going to the temple and getting married, and was very say when I found out that would never happen for me.

Today I choose to find my joy outside of my old dreams from when I was little. I have new dreams and I know my earthly parents love and accept me just the way I am.



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