“This is the biggest risk to the mental health of LGBT+ young people since Section 28”
BY SOPHIE GRIFFITHS, IMAGE VIA JUST LIKE US
New research from LGBT youth charity Just Like Us has revealed alarming figures regarding the mental health of LGBT young people in the UK. The findings highlighted that young people who are a part of the LGBTQI community are twice as likely to feel lonely and more than twice as likely to worry for their mental health on a daily basis during the pandemic than non-LGBT peers.
The survey by Just Like Us took 2,934 secondary school pupils into account, 1,140 of whom identified as LGBTQI. This data forms part of a larger report into inclusive education and the experiences of LGBTQI young people that the charity is due to publish in June 2021.
One pansexual secondary school pupil from Coventry, Matthew, continued to attend school during lockdown opened up about his struggles over the past year. He says: “It has been a really scary time for everyone. I definitely feel less motivated and it’s very quiet. I also have had some panic attacks and am worried about being forgotten. If you don’t have a home life where people are accepting of being LGBT+, you need it to be accepted at school so you know it’s OK.”
Some key findings from the survey included:
- 55% of LGBTQI 11 to 18 year olds are worried about their mental health on a daily basis, compared to just 26% of their non-LGBTQI peers.
- One in five young people say they have received no positive messaging from their school about being LGBTQI, which suggests that a significant number of schools are not taking action to meet Ofsted requirements of preventing homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying.
- Seven in 10 LGBTQI young people also say their mental health has worsened since the pandemic began, compared with half of non-LGBTQI young people.
- Two thirds of transgender young people say their mental health has worsened, compared to half of young people who aren’t transgender.
Chief Executive of Just Like Us, Dominic Arnall, has called for schools to ensure LGBTQI young people, who are more than twice as likely to be worrying daily about the state of their mental health, to be supported during this difficult time. “This is the biggest risk to the mental health of LGBT+ young people since Section 28. The pandemic has been a difficult period for everyone, but our research clearly demonstrates the impact of coronavirus and lockdown has not fallen equally. We cannot afford for progress made in LGBT+ education over the past 10 years to be swept aside during coronavirus.”
He continued: “At Just Like Us our role to support schools in sending positive messages to LGBT+ young people during this difficult time. We have free, LGBT+ inclusive resources available for all schools, all they need to do is sign up for School Diversity Week, or get in touch and talk to us.”
Schools can sign up now to take part in School Diversity Week here – it’s free and you’ll receive a free toolkit of resources.
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