LGBT Youth OUT
and Online in the UK
A look at how the changing nature of
online communication and access to
information ca...
PACE is London's leading charity promoting the mental health and
emotional wellbeing of the lesbian, gay, bisexual & trans...
LGBT young people are starting from
a base of hostility
The problem(s)
(1) Choices available to LGBT or ‘questioning’ young people
when coming out/exploring sexuality and seeking...
Choices available to LGBT or ‘questioning’
young people when coming out/exploring
sexuality and seeking access to ‘the gay...
1. Why is this a problem
Risk that LGBT young people:
– Will access no support
– Will access inappropriate/adult-oriented ...
1. What are the causes
– Will access no support:
• Fear of rejection – lack of social acceptability – family, faith, commu...
1.1. What are the causes:
• An inability by schools and other generic services to
address the specific social and developm...
1. What can be done about it?
a) Ensure a duty to provide local support/information services – peer support services – cre...
1.1 What can be done about it?
• An inability by schools and other ‘generic’ services to address the specific social
and d...
Unlimited access to questionable or
inappropriate information; adult-
orientated internet sites - at a key stage of
sexual...
2. Why is this a problem
Access to questionable/inappropriate information; adult-orientated internet sites and the
influen...
2. What are the causes
“The Internet is a useful and relatively anonymous way of finding out about lesbian and gay youth c...
Crossing the
line…?
Get your bits out for the lads?
‘Short on a few quid? Get your wanger out on stage at
Heaven tonight and you could win a c...
2. What can be done about it?
• Exposure to inappropriate content/images
– Awareness campaign (in the first instance) – re...
Summary
• Choice impacts on the transition to adulthood, confidence, mental health and sociability
• Exposure to inappropr...
PACE Youth Network SNAPSHOT: (Barnet Youth Shield initiative 2011)
Feedback from an LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans...
The RaRE Study
• Summary of the RaRE study
• PACE is undertaking a five year research study funded by the Big Lottery in p...
Where to turn: A Review of Current Provision in Online and Offline Mental
Health Support for LGBT People Experiencing Suic...
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Andy Higgins (PACE)

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Andy Higgins's presentation at Pride After Prejudice (31st October 2011)--prideafterprejudice.org

Published in: Spiritual, Health & Medicine
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  • Many (if not all) LGBT young people are starting from a base of hostility.

    Homophobia at school and college, in the home and in their local communities and churches – coupled with the negative messages their absorbed about what it means to be LGB or T as they grow up - can all influence how they think and feel about themselves and the world around them.

    In today’s digital, online world, these pressures can often be increased – due to the choices and options available to them and the (relatively new) phenomenon of cyber bullying and peer pressure or incitement to take risks online.
  • Here are a couple of areas I’d like to talk about.
  • Benefits: Choice – Testing the ground – In control of (level of) participation – access to peer support – access to support services – Choice.
  • Choices available to LGBT or ‘questioning’ young people when coming out/exploring sexuality and seeking access to ‘the gay community’ using IT/Social Networking

    Will access no support:

    - leading to isolation, depression, and potentially a life time of poor mental health and/or increased suicide risk etc.

    Will access inappropriate/adult-oriented services

    - via clubs, bars, saunas and other venues/services – risky sexual behaviour – risk of sexual sexploitation etc.

    Are very likely to engage in risky and potentially harmful online behaviour

    - exposure to sexual and social exploitation i.e. hook ups, web cam-ing, ‘modelling’ sites, cults/sub-cultures, religious conversion, extreme pro/anti sites etc. Sexualisation/Media – ‘The Gay Scene’

    Decide to move out of home and cut ties with family and local community

    - due to the negative reactions that can follow them based upon their actual or perceived sexuality – Many of the young people I work with in London originate from outside the capital


    The disconnected
  • Choices available to LGBT or ‘questioning’ young people when coming out/exploring sexuality and seeking access to ‘the gay community’ (and rightful place in society) using IT/Social Networking
  • Choices available to LGBT or ‘questioning’ young people when coming out/exploring sexuality and seeking access to ‘the gay community’ (and rightful place in society) using IT/Social Networking

    A primary cause could be a lack of visibility and positive role models –How can young people get to aged 21 (or older) without ever (knowingly) meeting or speaking to another gay person?

    I think we sometimes forget that LBGT people are EVERYWHERE and are represented at all levels of society. Organisation (or institutionalised) homophobia is evident in many parts of our society – in our churches, establishments, businesses, colleges and schools etc.– example WHL School.

    Many teachers and others have have training in anti-homophobia, but their reluctance to challenge discrimination as and when it happens hinders culture change. Some of the reasons that those in authority seem unwilling or unable to tackle this problem may be because of their own prejudices, beliefs or experiences – or the fact that that my be leaving themselves open to ridicule.




  • Choices available to LGBT or ‘questioning’ young people when coming out/exploring sexuality and seeking access to ‘the gay community’ (and rightful place in society) using IT/Social Networking
  • Choices available to LGBT or ‘questioning’ young people when coming out/exploring sexuality and seeking access to ‘the gay community’ (and rightful place in society) using IT/Social Networking

    Elly Barnes example – PACE Schools and Youth Work Programme*
  • Access to questionable/inappropriate information; adult-orientated internet sites and the influence of pornography at a key stage of sexual and emotional development
    Exposure to inappropriate content/images

    Can be damaging on a number of levels – social and emotional problems – crime and criminality

    Unrealistic expectations about what it means to be gay

    Impacts on self confidence and esteem – unrealistic aims/expectations – leads to risk taking behaviour – unhealthy relationships

    Unrealistic expectations around sex and relationship

    Creates pressure – causes body image issues and potential for eating disorders – drug/alcohol problems – potential/opportunity for risky sexual behaviour

    Confused feelings of worth (or worthiness)

    Impacts on mental health and well-being – stunts self confidence/esteem – learned behaviours

    Impacts on mental health and well-being

    Depression/anxiety – enduring mental health concerns – self-medication – distorted social ‘norms’
  • Access to questionable/inappropriate information; adult-orientated internet sites and the influence of pornography at a key stage of sexual and emotional development

    Unregulated internet access – The ‘PC in your pocket’ phenomenon
    Internet/online/press advertising – ‘Morality’.

    Exposure to inappropriate content/images – examples
    Can be damaging on a number of levels – social and emotional – crime and criminality

    Lack of parental/professional supervision – lack of awareness around rights and responsibilities – better awareness of impacts on development – youth friendly reporting systems*

    Unrealistic expectations about what it means to be gay
    Impacts on self confidence and esteem – unrealistic aims/expectations – leads to risk taking behaviour – unhealthy relationships

    Media responsibility - the ‘pick me’ culture – low self esteem – high self esteem* - peer pressure – need to please

    Unrealistic expectations around sex and relationship
    Creates pressure – causes body image issues, potential for eating disorders – drug/alcohol issues – potential/opportunity for risky sexual behaviour

    Stereotypes perpetuated by certain parts of the gay press and media more generally – need to fit in – virginity – influence of pornography and access to it –

    Confused feelings of worth (or worthiness)
    Impacts on mental health – confidence – behaviour

    Distortions around hopes and aspirations – perpetuated by the media - self medication –

    Impacts on mental health and well-being
    Depression/anxiety – enduring mental health concerns – self-medication

    Poor self esteem – lack of confidence to access support – lack of high visibility services and lgbt peer support - cultural/religious ideals -
  • Magazine advertising
  • Access to questionable/inappropriate information; adult-orientated internet sites and the influence of pornography at a key stage of sexual and emotional development

    Exposure to inappropriate content/images
    Can be damaging on a number of levels – social and emotional – crime and criminality - Lack of parental/professional supervision – lack of awareness around rights and responsibilities – better awareness of impacts on development – youth friendly reporting systems*
    Awareness campaigns – research in to exposure and sexualisation - better education around rights and responsibilities

    Unrealistic expectations about what it means to be gay
    Impacts on self confidence and esteem – unrealistic aims/expectations – leads to risk taking behaviour – unhealthy relationships - Media responsibility - the ‘pick me’ culture – low self esteem – high self esteem* - peer pressure – need to please and be seen to please
    Ethical code of conduct – mutual peer support – access to services – social education

    Unrealistic expectations around sex and relationships
    Creates pressure – causes body image issues, potential for eating disorders – drug/alcohol issues – potential/opportunity for risky sexual behaviour - Stereotypes perpetuated by certain parts of the gay press and media more generally – need to fit in – virginity – influence of pornography and access to it
    Better SRE at school – zero tolerance to homophobia – promotion of difference and diversity – school/FE/Workplace

    Confused feelings of worth (or worthiness)
    Impacts on mental health – confidence – behaviour - Extreme distortions around hopes and aspirations – self medication
    Integrated mental health services – local community inks – better awareness of support services/access to local support services – professional training

    Impacts on mental health and well-being
    Depression/anxiety – enduring mental health concerns – self-medication - Poor self esteem – lack of confidence to access support – lack of high visibility services and lgbt peer support - cultural/religious ideals
    Improved online access to LGBT support services - access to safe spaces – targeted support – schools information service
  • Andy Higgins (PACE)

    1. 1. LGBT Youth OUT and Online in the UK A look at how the changing nature of online communication and access to information can impact on the choices and decisions for LGBT young people as they begin to come out or explore their sexuality and/or gender identity
    2. 2. PACE is London's leading charity promoting the mental health and emotional wellbeing of the lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender community. • Established for over 25 years, PACE was founded by pioneering campaigner Julienne Dickey, as a response to the discovery of HIV and AIDS in the early 1980s. The service initially provided information about HIV/AIDS and emotional support to gay and bisexual men in London who were affected by HIV/AIDS. • Since 1985 PACE services have continually developed, now working with lesbian, gay and bisexual women, Children, families and young people, gay and bisexual men, trans people and those exploring their sexual or gender identities.
    3. 3. LGBT young people are starting from a base of hostility
    4. 4. The problem(s) (1) Choices available to LGBT or ‘questioning’ young people when coming out/exploring sexuality and seeking access to ‘the gay community’ using IT/Social networking (2) Unlimited access to questionable/inappropriate information; adult-orientated internet sites at a key stage of sexual, social and emotional development
    5. 5. Choices available to LGBT or ‘questioning’ young people when coming out/exploring sexuality and seeking access to ‘the gay community' using IT/Social Networking
    6. 6. 1. Why is this a problem Risk that LGBT young people: – Will access no support – Will access inappropriate/adult-oriented services – Are very likely to engage in risky and potentially harmful online behaviour – Decide to move out of home and cut ties with family and local community • The dis-connected
    7. 7. 1. What are the causes – Will access no support: • Fear of rejection – lack of social acceptability – family, faith, community etc. lack of confidence, lack of contact with peers, lack of opportunity to learn experientially from other lgbt/supportive peers – Will access inappropriate/adult-oriented services • Media culture – Opportunity for access - Mythical notions; Stereotypical assumptions and sometimes unrealistic expectations about what it means to be part of the LGBT community – i.e. being a ‘proper gay’, body image, sexual expectations etc. poor self esteem, sexual urges, desire for acceptance, need to meet others. – Are very likely to engage in risky and potentially harmful online behaviour • ‘Incitement’ to risk-taking behaviour whether online or ‘real life’ - peer pressure - Overwhelming/casual exposure/access to pornography from a very early age – increased sexualisation – further risk of potential for sexual and social exploitation via hook ups, web camming, modelling sites, cults/sub-culture, religious conversion, extreme pro/anti sites etc. – Decide to move out of home and/or cut ties with family and local community – their past • Negative reactions that can follow them throughout their transition to adulthood - based upon actual or perceived sexuality – fear of rejection, family conflict, class, culture or faith – The transient nature of LGBT young people
    8. 8. 1.1. What are the causes: • An inability by schools and other generic services to address the specific social and developmental needs of LGBT young people • An inability by all of us to take a zero tolerance approach to homophobia
    9. 9. 1. What can be done about it? a) Ensure a duty to provide local support/information services – peer support services – creating choice to access appropriate help b) Better education and creating opportunity to access information and support from ‘reputable’ sources – teacher training – parents awareness campaign - better local/regional provision for LGBT children and young people – and their parents. Further teacher training – Better policing of dubious sites and an ethical code of conduct for suppliers of adult ‘entertainment’ - esp. those that openly promote and publicise the selling of sex/services. c) Investment in ‘Youth friendly’* awareness campaign and reporting systems – support for parents/professionals - high visibility support and information services – ‘child friendly’ awareness campaigns about online dangers and responsible web use – better regulation of extreme sites and helping children and young people understand the consequences of their online actions. - Cyber bullying* d) Zero tolerance approach to homophobia and discrimination at school, and in further education - Better access to information and support for professionals/teachers/parents (of lgbt youth) - better monitoring of the numbers of young people who experience family conflict – work with schools and communities towards tolerance and understanding.
    10. 10. 1.1 What can be done about it? • An inability by schools and other ‘generic’ services to address the specific social and developmental needs of LGBT young people – Better regulation – monitoring of LGBT pupils – Enhanced community links - utilising LGBT professionals and local/regional support services – Compulsory teacher training – A whole school approach – creating a safe space for all pupils. – Zero tolerance approach to homophobia in schools and FE/sixth form and universities – a tougher ‘safer schools’ model. – Curriculum based activities and better education around difference and diversity. – Higher visibility – Acceptance of personal responsibility
    11. 11. Unlimited access to questionable or inappropriate information; adult- orientated internet sites - at a key stage of sexual, social and emotional development
    12. 12. 2. Why is this a problem Access to questionable/inappropriate information; adult-orientated internet sites and the influence of pornography at a key stage of sexual and emotional development Young people have never had so much access to information - and misinformation. This can result in: • Exposure to inappropriate content/images - Influence of pornography on young men • Unrealistic expectations about what it means to be gay • Unrealistic expectations around sex and relationship - early sexualisation • Confused feelings of worth (or worthiness) • Impacts on mental health and well-being
    13. 13. 2. What are the causes “The Internet is a useful and relatively anonymous way of finding out about lesbian and gay youth contacts. However many families, schools and local authorities (including libraries and statutory youth services) have a net screening or ‘nanny’ that makes it impossible for young people to search using the words ‘lesbian’ or ‘gay’. (HIND 2004) • Unregulated internet access – The ‘PC in your pocket’ phenomenon • Internet/online advertising – Lack of parental/professional supervision – lack of awareness around rights and responsibilities – better awareness of impacts on development – youth friendly reporting systems* – Media responsibility - the ‘pick me’ culture – low self esteem – high self esteem* - peer pressure – a need to please – Stereotypes perpetuated by certain parts of the gay press and media more generally – need to fit in – virginity – influence of pornography and access to it – Distortions around hopes and aspirations – self medication – – Poor self esteem – lack of confidence to access support – lack of high visibility services and lgbt peer support - cultural/religious ideals
    14. 14. Crossing the line…?
    15. 15. Get your bits out for the lads? ‘Short on a few quid? Get your wanger out on stage at Heaven tonight and you could win a cool £100 cash prize… £100 has never been so easy…”
    16. 16. 2. What can be done about it? • Exposure to inappropriate content/images – Awareness campaign (in the first instance) – research in to exposure and sexualisation - education around rights and responsibilities • Unrealistic expectations about what it means to be gay – Ethical code of conduct on advertisers/media – mutual peer support – access to support services – social (and SRE) education for LGBT youth • Unrealistic expectations around sex and relationships – Improved SRE at school – zero tolerance to homophobia – promotion of difference and diversity – school/FE/workplace/community • Confused feelings of worth (or worthiness) – Integrated mental health services – local community inks – Improved awareness of support services – improved access to local LGBT support services – professional training – positive role models • Impacts on mental health and well-being – Improved online access to LGBT support services - access to safe spaces – targeted support – schools information service
    17. 17. Summary • Choice impacts on the transition to adulthood, confidence, mental health and sociability • Exposure to inappropriate content influences key development stages – Further research needed • Importance on ‘real life’ peer support – ‘proper’ youth work – visible, local support services and access to trusted adults • Improved SRE education and compulsory teacher/professional training – review of models of best practice – bringing it all together • Targeted online support for LGBT youth at risk • Support and information for parents/carers/professionals • Holding advertisers and the media to account – Tougher regulation • A.O.B: Act On Bullying: Wiping out homophobia in schools once and for all – ‘getting tough’ – monitoring of sexual/homophobic bullying - scrutiny of anti-bullying policies
    18. 18. PACE Youth Network SNAPSHOT: (Barnet Youth Shield initiative 2011) Feedback from an LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) focus group session: This focus group covered the areas of hate crime, mental health and support for young people – (Methodology). “I would not feel comfortable talking to teachers about LGBT issues because I’m not confident in teachers feelings towards LGBT people” “I may talk to my GP, would depend on which doctor, would need to be some one that would take my concerns Seriously” “There are not enough support services for LGBT young people. There is PACE and not many others like it. More LGBT specific groups needed- instead of a section of a normal youth club. Need further support for over 18s-since the cuts over 18s support has disappeared” “In schools the staff are not involved enough in LGBT issues. Turn a blind eye to bullying and offensive terms” “People are put in danger because there aren’t adequate services health and mental health wise! The cuts have meant people have no where comfortable to go. Can’t get the advice needed, talking to others with shared experiences and within a wide age range is important! PACE provided that. Without services people can become Isolated” “More awareness raising needed but more carefully done so keep services safe for young people” “Awareness of LGBT issues needs to start in primary schools- so that people don’t just have the stereotyped view of an LGB or T. The TV gives a bad image of gay people. With ridiculous characters being the face of LGBTs in the media” “It’s important to get different cultures involved in breaking down prejudices in communities. Government panders too much to different cultures in an attempt not to offend.. and in the meantime excluding the LGBT community. More government support in schools, home and work is needed” “More inclusive and open schools and a homophobic teachers report line. Teachers can be openly homophobic” • Some of the young people in the group had suffered abuse at home and at school because of their sexuality. This was due to ignorance and cultural differences. The point of cultural ignorance was brought up by two individuals who said their parents thought homosexuality was a new phenomenon! However most of the young people had been accepted within their families and cultures despite going against the “norm”. • Support is needed for parents and family members to ensure that they can support people in “coming out”. Services are available but not widely known. • Not being able to be open about their sexuality was the main issue affecting the level of safety for the young people. • They would feel safer having a KNOWN LGBT liaison officer. Every borough has one but they are “invisible”. One young person went to ask for the officer in the police station and the other policemen were clueless. • Only 4 of the Y.P knew about the existence of LGBT liaison officers. • Besides this the young people have no trust in their police, wouldn’t feel comfortable reporting abuse (domestic or otherwise) to the authorities. If help was needed they would talk to friends or to PACE. Conclusions It is obvious that these young people feel that LGBT issues are ignored-proved in the retraction of funding from different boroughs. More support is needed in Schools and in the form of Youth Clubs particularly for over 18s.
    19. 19. The RaRE Study • Summary of the RaRE study • PACE is undertaking a five year research study funded by the Big Lottery in partnership with four universities. The study is called ‘Risk and Resilience Explored; Understanding health inequalities in sexual minorities’, or the RaRE Study for short. • The health inequalities the RaRE study is exploring are: suicide attempt in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth, alcohol problems in lesbian and bisexual women, and body image disorders in gay and bisexual men. • The study aims to identify whether LGBT specific health promotion interventions may be needed; to improve identification of those at risk and the targeting of services towards them; to inform the development of appropriate prevention initiatives; and identify effective support for those experiencing the problems under study. • The RaRE study is in several parts – a qualitative study currently taking place involving interviewing LGBT people with a history of the problems under study and a larger survey comparing LGBT with heterosexual people with the problems under study, due to begin next year. • The study is unusual in simultaneously exploring common factors between multiple health issues, and in examining resilience as well as risk.
    20. 20. Where to turn: A Review of Current Provision in Online and Offline Mental Health Support for LGBT People Experiencing Suicidal Distress • This report grew out of “Mental disorders, suicide, and deliberate self harm in lesbian, gay and bisexual people a systematic review” by the National Institute for Mental Health in England published in 2007. That work reviewed the evidence base that LGB people are at greater risk of mental disorder and suicidal behaviour than heterosexual people. It concludes that: “LGB people are at significantly higher risk of mental disorder, suicidal ideation, substance misuse, and DSH than heterosexual people.” • Tim Franks, Elizabeth Peel & Peter Scott June 2010

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