LGBT+ History Month – Young People and Mental Health

February marks LGBT+ history month, and whilst this is a celebratory month that delves into the historical advancement of the LGBT+ community, a sizeable amount of the community’s history is the discrimination members have faced.

Research suggests children and young people who identify as LGBT+ have a higher risk of developing a mental health condition. This is not to say that identifying as LGBT+ causes mental health problems, rather the discrimination they face has a significant impact on their mental health.

Why is it important LGBT+ Children and Young People are validated?

University of Cambridge research for Stonewall in The School Report (2017) found that:

  • Over half of LGBT young people (53 per cent) don’t feel there is an adult at school or college they can talk to about being LGBT.
  • Three in five LGBT young people (60 per cent) don’t have an adult to talk to at home.
  • Two in five LGBT young people (40 per cent) have never been taught anything about LGBT issues at school.
  • Two-thirds of LGBT young people (66 per cent) say their school doesn’t offer help to access resources that can support them.
  • One in three trans young people (33 per cent) are not able to be known by their preferred name at school, while three in five (58 per cent) are not allowed to use the toilets they feel comfortable in.
  • Nearly half of LGBT young people (45 per cent) – including 64 per cent of trans young people – are bullied for being LGBT at school or college.

As a child or young person, they may be feeling overwhelmed, worried or confused, but this is normal and completely understandable. We would encourage children and young people to speak confidently to a trusted person who can support them on their journey. We should focus on the achievement this is for many young people, to finally have that conversation and to present as their authentic selves.

As a member of the LGBT+ community myself, I have noticed the relief felt when I can openly talk about my sexuality without the stigma and strange looks we expect. During my teen years, I felt seen and comfortable among my peers and not like the outcast society said I would be. I was privileged with my coming out story, however, I know many have trauma relating back to that time in their life. This is why LGBT+ History Month is so important in educating a wider audience on ways we can support and become more inclusive as society.

Written by Sophie Wrotniak.