Young LGB People

See our LGB organisation listings under Across Wales for LGB youth groups in Wales.

NGOs and government backed services in Wales, such as Save The Children, Barnardos, the Children's Commissioner, Young People's Partnerships, Funky Dragon and the Terrence Higgins Trust, also provide services or policy development that includes the needs of young LGB people in Wales.

Information, support and advice for young people growing into their sexuality is scant in Wales.  Often young lesbians, gay men and bisexuals have no contact with other LGBs.

Moving from home, whether by choice or all too often after being rejected by friends or family on 'coming out', or moving away to go to university is often the first time that young LGB people can begin to explore and express their sexual identity.  Indeed, choosing a university that is far from home, or moving away from rural parts of Wales to its cities, or further afield, is a deliberate strategy for many young LGB people in Wales.

Being rejected by family or friends on 'coming out' can have dire consequences for young people aged 16 to 18 who have no access to social security benefits.  The YWCA (2004), which indicates that  young people become aware of their sexuality between the ages of 10 and 15 but that those who feel attracted to people of the same-sex may not discuss their sexuality or 'come out' until much later, says rejection by family and friends can be devastating.  Homelessness, fostering, residential care, physical or sexual assault, and mental health issues can result.

Sustained periods of feeling alone, or different can lead to severe isolation, depression, self-harm, suicide and other emotional health issues.

The report also finds that LGB people remain invisible in much sex and relationships guidance at school, as its focus is heterosexual reproduction.  There is no information on forming same-sex relationships or safe sexual practice.

Besides young LGB people's increased vulnerability to bullying at school (see our Education For All section), the YWCA report states that young lesbians suffer a higher rate of sexual assault/abuse than young gay men.  When girls and women 'come out' they can be targeted by male family members who wish to control, punish, 'convert'.

In Wales, Funky Dragon has recognised young LGB people as a 'hard to reach' group.  They have begun researching ways to encourage and empower young LGB people to speak out about their experiences and needs.

Contacts: see Across Wales for a list of projects for young people in Wales.  See especially West Rhyl Young Peoples Project - Viva! and Swansea Young Gay Network (SYGNet)

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