Working with young people who identify as LGBT is an area of our work that has continued throughout all the turmoil and change over the past 18months. This is an area that is set to grow however in order to do this we need to continue to identify what their needs are and how best we can address them.
As we all know, being a young person growing up has its own challenges however this can be even more so when when you’re lesbian, gay,bisexual, trans or questioning your sexuality and/or gender identity (LGBTQ) – or at least that’s what everyone says.
The reality is, however that there’s very little robust data currently available on LGBTQ people in the UK in general, even less so on young people in particular. According to recent reports:-
- An alarming 65% of 16-25year old LGB people have experienced homophobic bullying at school in England.
- The rate of attempted suicide is twice as high among the LGB population as the national average
- In the US at least, LGB record significantly higher drug andalcohol use.
This evidence suggests that there are tangible issues here and that they have a very serious impact on all aspects of young people’s lives and outcomes. The data,however, is still missing and the response from services – therefore unclear.
So - the question a ground-breaking new study is attempting to answer by surveying 15,000 16-25 year old LGBT people across the country is how hard is it really and what are the specific challenges that make it so? Youth Chances – a social research project led by the Metro in partnership with the University of Greenwich and Ergo Consulting, and funded by the BigLottery, is inviting 16-25 year olds from across England to share their story by completing the survey – here are some of them, speaking out about Youth Chances andhow it will make a difference to their lives.
The evidence collected will help to inform and influence the work of service providers and commissioners all over England and help them identify how their policies can be improved to address the real concerns of young LGBT people today. So, if you’re working with young people, especially those who may identify as LGBTQ then please, please, encourage them to fill in the survey!
The LGBTU strategy working group met recently and we’ve definately started to move forward. I have been working with two other colleagues to draw together the threads of the strategy and we’re almost there! We’ve also had some good discussions about how we might move this forward and how we will engage young people who identify as LGBTU in its development. As well as involving them in developing the strategy we are keen to organise some county wide events and look at how we brand our LGBTU work here in West Sussex.
Some interesting areas that came up for discussion were the age range of the
Courtesy of David Paul Ohmer
young people involved in the groups we are looking to develop and the policies we might want to have around this area of work. A colleague is undertaking some research into policies and good practice and I would welcome any feedback anyone may have with regards to these. In particular we are looking at age range, location and ‘entrance’ to the group.
At the moment I think that we will be looking at potentially working with 2 age groups (13-18/19 and then 19-25yrs) due to the differing needs. With regards to access and publicising groups, it appears that good practice is to advertise a telephone number and then the individual can arrange to meet with a youth worker before taking part in the group. I also like the groundrules / group agreement format that Outreach Youth have posted on their website.
If anyone else has any other suggestions please do post them or contact me. And for those of you still learning and understanding the need for work in this area have a look at this blog post.
We’ve got our next working group meeting on Friday and having had a lot of input concerning equalities during our recent Staff Conference I’m looking forward to seeing how we’ve progressed from the last meeting and where we might end up.
photo courtesy jglsongs
For those colleagues reading who are interested in working with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning or unsure youth (or are already doing so) a recent commentator who works here has set up a new blog here. The blog is hoping to support youth workers working with LGBT young people who want to share and discuss youth work issues.
Happy 2009! I hope that you had a good break and enjoyed whatever festivities you took part in. Here’s to a great 2009 with lots of new and exciting adventures in youth work!
Following on from my random posts before Christmas I thought I would keep giving a round up of how things are progressing down here in the South. I had a really successful meeting before Christmas (for me success was measured in the short time it took, the participation of members, and the amount of work done!) concerning the development of our LGBTU strategy. We have split the group into sub groups which are going to focus on Events / Social activities, PR and writing the actual strategy. This has been helpful in that it has really focused the work and enabled a group of us to start moving forward on developing different aspects. We’ve an update meeting at the beginning of February which I think will be very positive especially as there are some practical aspects within the strategy that we are developing that we can move on quickly.
As an aside for those of you that don’t know and might be interested February is LGBT History month which gives us a great opportunity to encourage youth workers to explore LGBT issues, homophobic bullying etc and look at ways in which they can challenge stereotypes, promote equality and work to prevent discrimination. There are a number of resources available as follows:-
For those based involved in school based youth work (although there are good links to other material) http://www.schools-out.org.uk/
For more general resources there is:- http://www.lgbthistorymonth.org.uk/resources/books.htm
And another site for more information:- No Outsiders
Last week was a week of meetings, conferences and research development and one of these was on Friday night when I went to the launch of the West Sussex Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Unsure (LGBTU) Youth Research Project.
For some time now we have been stuggling as a County (and in that I’m including our partnerships with the PCT and Terrence Higgins Trust ) to ensure appropriate provision for young people within the area who identify as LGBTU. Some time ago a lot of research into such provision had been undertaken and a group set up in Crawley along similar lines to the Allsorts Youth Project based in Brighton and Hove.
However due to changes in staff and young people the Crawley group never really took off and there is still no provision within West Sussex. So I went along to see where we were at in terms of the research, especially with a view to what young people have been telling us.
It was a great turn out for a Friday late afternoon / evening. As well as several presentations there were 2 workshops, one for young people and one for professionals to look at needs, what LGBTU provision would look like and what needed to be done. There are still quite a few questions (more…)