Savannah, 12, made a decision this January; she was going to come out as lesbian at her Mormon Church. Nothing was going to stop her.
She’s a normal almost-teenage girl in Utah: She loves to draw and make art. When she grows up, she wants to be a Disney animator. Her favorite bands are Imagine Dragons and Fall Out Boy.
On June 22, 2016, one day after her birthday, Savannah came out to her parents as lesbian.
Mom had suspicions and knew that day might come.
“I looked at her and said, ‘OK, I love you. And I’ll support you no matter what you do,'” said Heather, her mother.
The family felt strongly that they didn’t have the right to prevent Savannah from telling her story publicly, including sharing it with CNN, but asked that their hometown and last names be withheld to give them a measure of privacy.
After coming out to her parents, Savannah began the process of coming out to her friends and extended family.
Six months later, she felt a calling.
“I had a feeling like I should come out to the church,” Savannah said shyly. “I came out to all of my family and I just wanted to do something more.”
Both her parents were taken aback by their daughter’s desire to come out in front of her church.
“I was mostly nervous for her and where this would take her as a 12-year-old girl,” said Josh, her father. Josh and Savannah are still members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the official name of the church.
Heather left the church a year and a half ago after official church policy documents were leaked online in 2015.
Those documents, confirmed by the church to CNN to be authentic, apostatize same-sex couples who marry and bar any of their children from blessings or baptism until they themselves reach legal age. They remain church policy.
Official church policy welcomes members of the Mormon faith that have same-sex attractions. They say it’s possible to be “Mormon and gay.”
Church teaching, however, mandates that members with same-sex attractions…