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21 June 2022

Trigger Warning // Violence, Suicide, Homophobia and Transphobia.

Pride Month takes place annually to mark the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York in 1969. Over 50 years on, there have been many positive steps made to improve LGBTQ+ rights, from the overturning of laws against homosexuality, the equalisation of the age of consent and the global fight for marriage equality.

Discrimination and injustice today

But while we can – and should – celebrate this progress, we must also look at the discrimination and injustice that still exists in our society. Trans rights around the world are under attack. In the UK, conversion therapy will be outlawed for lesbian, gay and bisexual people. However, the practice will remain legal for trans people. Many of the arguments used against gay people in the 20th century are applied to trans people today. This moral panic is fueling fear and division, with young people impacted hugely.

In the United States, Florida’s ‘don’t say gay’ bill introduces similar restrictions to those that existed in the UK throughout the late-’80s and ‘90s because of Section 28. Progress is not set in stone.

In at least 68 countries around the world, same-sex relationships remain illegal, with many laws introduced under British colonial rule remaining in place today. In 11 countries, the death penalty remains in place for private, consensual same-sex sexual activity.

A mental health crisis: what the research shows

In the UK today, despite many positive changes in public attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people over the last 40 years [source: Social Attitudes Survey], discrimination and stigma are still rife.

Results from the Government’s National LGBT Survey (2018) shows:
  • LGBT respondents are less satisfied with their life than the general UK population (rating satisfaction 6.5 on average out of 10 compared with 7.7). Trans respondents had particularly low scores (around 5.4 out of 10).
  • At least two in five respondents had experienced an incident because they were LGBT, such as verbal harassment or physical violence, in the 12 months preceding the survey. However, more than nine in ten of the most serious incidents went unreported, often because respondents thought ‘it happens all the time’.

[Source: Government Equalities Office, 2018]

Results from Just Like Us research (2021) shows:
  • LGBT+ young people are twice as likely to contemplate suicide, and Black LGBT+ young people are three times more likely.
  • LGBT+ pupils feel far less safe at school. Only 58% of LGBT+ young people have felt safe at school on a daily basis in the past 12 months, compared to 73% of non-LGBT+ pupils.
  • LGBT+ pupils who have come out report feeling even less safe, and are even more likely to experience bullying. 68% of LGBT+ pupils who haven’t told anyone they are LGBT+ feel safe on a daily basis at school, compared to only 57% of LGBT+ pupils who have come out to at least one person.
  • LGBT+ young people are twice as likely to have depression, anxiety and panic attacks as well as be lonely and worry about their mental health on a daily basis.
  • 68% of LGBT+ young people say their mental health has ‘got worse’ since the pandemic, compared to 49% of their non-LGBT+ peers.

[Source: Just Like Us, 2021]

Mental health issues are more prevalent among LGBTQ+ people than in the wider population. The pandemic has exacerbated this.

Supporting LGBTQ+ young people through youth work

It’s now 50 years since the first Pride march took place in London. There have been huge changes in public attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community in this time, and significant moves to tackle discrimination and inequality.

But the statistics paint a troubling picture. LGBTQ+ people still face challenges that others do not. When race, class and religion are taken into account, the challenges are even more pronounced.

Building safe and inclusive spaces for LGBTQ+ young people is vital. Community youth organisations are a vital space for so many LGBTQ+ young people who are able to be themselves and express their identity free from the discrimination that so many LGBTQ+ young people face at home and in school.

No young person should face discrimination because of who they are. We will continue supporting the youth sector to ensure all LGBTQ+ young people are able to grow up happy, healthy and able to be themselves.

50 years on, the work to achieve LGBTQ+ liberation continues.

Looking for help? Organisastions you can turn to.

Switchboard LGBT+ helpline provides information and support to LGBTQ+ people. Phone: 0300 330 0630

Albert Kennedy Trust  supports LGBTQ+ young people aged 16 to 25.

Gendered Intelligence is a trans-led charity that works to increase the quality of trans and non-binary people’s lives.

Stonewall has a list of LGBTQ+ inclusive organisations here.

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