Mental health and LGBT+

The threats to mental health and wellbeing for LGBT+ students are many, varied and clear. Adele Bates highlights some of the challenges and advises schools in SecEd.

Almost half of all LGBT+ pupils face bullying at school for being LGBT+. Online, nearly all LGBT+ young people are exposed to offensive content about LGBT+ people, and only one in three think that reporting it will make a difference.

Since the EU Referendum there has been a 147 per cent rise in homophobic hate crime. This takes its toll on our LGBT+ youth: more than four in five trans young people have self-harmed and LGBT+ youth are four times more likely to kill themselves than their heterosexual, cis-gender (non-trans) counterparts.
These facts were laid bare in Stonewall’s School Report 2017 – a study of more than 37 000 LGBT+ students across Britain.

The phrase: but we don’t have any of those staff or pupils in our school is unhelpful and not most likely not at all true.

Statistically you will have. The government believes that around six per cent (3.9 million) of people are LGBT+ in Britain. Do you know the biologically assigned gender of your science technician? Do you know the gender of all your staff’s partners, past and present? Do you know the gender of all your pupils’ parents/carers?

In leadership, you have the opportunity and responsibility to role-model inclusion across the whole school. How often is mental health addressed directly? Is it something that can be discussed in your school or is there shame attached to it? Are any of your staff able to share their own experiences with mental health? 

When giving examples of inspirational role-models in assemblies how many of them are trans? What pronouns do you use when giving a speech at the open day for year 6s? If you’re unsure, begin with an examination of your language. Get familiar with key LGBT terms (see my previous articles, including the piece on LGBT History Month – links below), and be sure to get them right when you speak for and on behalf of your school.

Given the spectrum of sexual orientation and gender identity, it is important that any support of a student begins with identifying their specific needs. 

Again, do not assume anything – ask. The issues will not all be around coming out. Some schools have equality or LGBT+ staff allies, who are fully trained and knowledgeable about the specific issues these students may face. This can be useful if counselling resources are low in your school, but remember that pupils may turn to any adult they feel safe with so everyone needs basic knowledge on how to be supportive.

Read the full article Mental health and LGBT+

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