Findings from the biggest social research study into young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in England have revealed that over half experience mental health issues, with 40% considering suicide. The Youth Chances project also warns that a generation of LGBT people face a mental health crisis.
The project was led by charity Metro and gained data from over 7,000 16-25 year-old lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who were asked about their experiences of education, health services, relationships and employment. The results revealed that 50% of respondents had self-harmed and 42% had sought help for depression or anxiety.
The Youth Chances project also warned that the neglect of LGBT issues by schools is contributing to a climate of fear and hostility. Metro’s acting chief executive, Dr Greg Ussher said the following:
“By the age of 13 most are already sure or are questioning their sexuality or gender identity, so we need to ensure all families and schools are equipped to give that support.”
A worrying one in five LGBT students reported being physically attacked at school, however the majority didn’t report them. Of those who had reported the attacks, only a small proportion said they felt their concerns were resolved. On top of this, only a quarter of respondents said they learnt about safe sex with a same-sex partner at school.
Dr Ussher has warned that schools failing to act would lead to an increased risk of abuse, bullying and rejection – all of which leads to increased levels of depression, self-harm and even suicide.
He added that schools have a ‘key role’ to play and must provide inclusive environments with a zero tolerance to discrimination and bullying. The way to do this, is through education and support.
LGBT campaigner Peter Tatchell also commented, saying that these findings should serve as a wake-up call for Education Secretary, Michael Gove:
“Every school should be required to teach sex and relationship education that addresses LGBT issues.”