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LGBTQIA+ Young People and Lockdown

In this article we will explore how the global pandemic may have impacted LGBTQIA+ young people in your education setting, whilst having a look across the United Kingdom for some insight in regard to how young people have coped during this time. We will provide you with a wider resource from professionals, at the bottom of the article, for information to support you and colleagues moving forward.

LGBTQIA+ young people can face various inequalities on a daily basis, including social isolation, barriers within education and employment opportunities, higher rates of mental ill-health, increased risk of self-harm and suicidal ideation and struggles being accepted within social circles and family environments. These experiences are often exacerbated or as a result of homophobia, biphobia or transphobia.

Research by LGBT Youth Scotland found that 71% of LGBTQIA+ people say that homophobia is a problem within their local area, with 79% advising that transphobia is an issue within their local area. Only 52% of LGBTQIA+ young people felt included within in the wider community, with this figure being only 35% for trans young people.

This wider area of research by LGBT Youth Scotland focusses on other areas of concern for LGBTQIA+ young people, including:

Trans and Non-Binary Healthcare

Gender Identity Clinics are overall operating on reduced capacity and waiting times for gender-affirming surgeries have been postponed

Insecure Housing

24% of homeless young people are LGBTQIA+ and 69% of homeless LGBTQIA+ young people have experienced violence, abuse or rejection in the family home, which will only be exacerbated during lockdown periods

Digital Poverty

This is an issue experienced by all young people living within poverty or deprivation, however vitally important due to the additional levels of isolation potentially experienced

Mental Health

84% of LGBTQIA+ young people and 96% of trans young people indicate they have experienced a mental health problem prior to the isolation and stress associated with Covid-19

These issues are experienced and witnessed across the United Kingdom for LGBTQIA+ young people. The BeU Project, based in the Manchester area, is a trauma-informed supported accommodation for young people who are homeless, at risk of homelessness or at risk in their accommodation and identify as LGBTQIA+. Matt Waites, Project Worker within BeU, advised of the following issues for young people during the pandemic:

- Limited access to regular community supports

- Lack of access to college placements or work experience opportunities

- Limited or no access to friendship and peer groups

- Limited immediate prospects for employment due to lockdown and furlough scheme

- Feeling trapped at home and potentially being exposed to familial abuse due to their identity

- Living in hostile environments without being able to come out through fear of eviction

Matt advised that for some LGBTQIA+ young people who attend education, the lockdown period may have been viewed as a positive, as school isn’t always a safe place due to increased risk of bullying, homophobia, biphobia or transphobia. The blended learning approach and learning at home allowed some to prioritise their learning instead of their safety. Matt also advised that LGBTQIA+ young people are accessing virtual supports for peer interaction, which can also be a positive for those who experience anxiety and are unable to leave the house. Matt also expressed that the digital supports may have increased social isolation for some, who may have been unable to have conversations freely in their home environment during online meetings. Matt advised that not having that free space for some could have been a real barrier.

The Albert Kennedy Trust has produced an LGBTQIA+ Homelessness Report for young people. Some of the key findings, some of which were during lockdown, found that:

- 13% of young people felt supported by parents / step parents while homeless

- 50% said they feared expressing their identity to family members would lead to them being evicted

- 59% of young people have faced some form of discrimination or harassment while accessing services

The full report and key findings can be found here:

https://www.akt.org.uk/report

It remains to be seen how the lockdown will impact young people across the United Kingdom in the longer term within your education setting, however, it is important to note that LGBTQIA+ young people are likely to be experiencing multiple levels of adversity as they progress in and out of lockdown periods. The section below will provide wider reading and resources for yourself and colleagues to engage with to support LGBTQIA+ young people within your setting:

Wider Resources:
Stonewall Resources for Schools and Colleges: https://www.stonewall.org.uk/schools-colleges
LGBT Youth Scotland Research on Covid-19: https://lgbtyouth.org.uk/news/2020/how-covid-19-is-affecting-lgbtqiaplus-young-people-living-in-scotland/
AKT Help Centre for LGBTQ+ Young People 16+: https://www.akt.org.uk/get-help
Padlet Resources for LGBTQ+ Young People: https://padlet.com/ceridwen/LGBTresources
Trans Health UK Blog During Covid-19: https://transhealthuk.noblogs.org/
The Proud Trust (Manchester) section for Schools and Education: https://www.theproudtrust.org/training-and-education/

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