In the run up to LGBT+ School Diversity Week in early July, research for charity Just Like Us finds that growing up LGBT+ is still unacceptably tough.
18 June 2019, London, UK
Fifty years after the Stonewall riots and fifteen years since the repeal of Section 28, Just Like Us set out to learn what life is like for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+) young people growing up in the UK today. The appalling findings from this survey reveal that levels of anxiety, depression, bullying and discrimination against LGBT+ youth remain significantly high and clearly outweigh the pressures felt by their non-LGBT+ peers
These disheartening findings won’t surprise everyone coming as they do in a month which has seen ongoing parental protests against LGBT+ school lessons, a prime ministerial candidate argue for parental choice over whether children learn about LGBT+ issues in school, a bishop call for Catholics to boycott all pride month celebrations, a Brexit Party MEP suggest science may find a cure for homosexuality and a lesbian couple beaten on a London bus, by a group of men, for refusing to kiss.
Earlier this year, Just Like Us commissioned extensive research – an online study of 1,000 young people, aged 16-18, in the UK – to understand the well-being among LGBT+ young people, the challenges they face at school and college and what types of support our young people feel they need to thrive.
Key findings from the UK wide research, conducted by Prescient, were:
Almost 9 in 10 LGBT+ young people have experienced anxiety or depression (85% vs 56% for their non LGBT+ peers)
LGBT+ young people are twice as likely to have experienced discrimination than their non-LGBT+ peers
3 in 4 LGBT+ young people have experienced bullying (73% vs 52% for peers)
LGBT+ young people are less likely to say they feel optimistic about the next stage of their life (51% vs 73% for peers)
There appears to be an urban/rural divide - feedback from young people indicates that life may be harder for LGBT+ young people in more rural communities. This is mirrored in the sign-ups for School Diversity Week. Just Like Us would like to ask more schools in rural areas to sign up.
LGBT+ young people also appear to be significantly less likely to go to their family for support: only 26% turn to a family member for support (vs 44% of their peers)
Commenting on the research, Just Like Us Chief Executive Tim Ramsey said, “These figures are bad. Very bad. That is why School Diversity Week is so important.”
“We want a world where LGBT+ young people don’t face these challenges, can achieve their best and where being LGBT+ is just as boring as being straight,” added Ramsey. “We launched School Diversity Week to do just that, providing teachers and pupils with the resources and support they need to organise events that champion LGBT+ equality and challenge prejudice so school is a place where every young person can thrive.”
This year, over one million students across the UK are due to take part in School Diversity Week, 1-5 July 2019. For more information about School Diversity Week and actions you can take to support this initiative, visit justlikeus.org.