LGBT Youth Scotland

Response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Scotland:

LGBT Youth Scotland is Scotland’s national charity for young people who identify as LGBT+. They work with 13 – 25-year olds across the country and deliver the LGBT Charter programme to schools, organisations and businesses.

During lockdown, LGBT Youth Scotland have supported young people through an extensive programme of digital youth work:

·      Youth Groups: Running at the usual group times, the youth groups have moved online using “Discord”, a digital platform that enables social interactions, activities and video calls. Youth groups still welcome new members

·      Live Chat: available through LGBT Youth Scotland’s website, it enables young people to chat directly with trained youth workers who are able to signpost to services that might be helpful. The live chat is available on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday 6pm to 8pm and Tuesday & Wednesday 3pm to 5pm

·      Text message and email support: Similar to the live chat, young people can email to get in touch or use the text message service available Monday to Friday.

·      Information and resources are available on the charity’s social media accounts

Impact of Covid19 on LGBT+ young people[1]

A blog post collated by Policy and Engagement colleagues at LGBT Youth Scotland highlights the unique ways in which the pandemic has affected young people.

“71% of LGBT people say that homophobia is a problem in their local area and 79% said that transphobia is a problem in their local area. 

Only 52% of LGBT young people felt included in the wider community, this is even lower for young trans people, at 35%.” 

·      LGBT+ young people feel unable to seek solidarity and support from their families or local communities. Many face homophobia, biphobia and/or transphobia within their local environments including their family homes. LGBT+ young people struggle to maintain a connection with their support networks especially given the temporary closure of LGBT+ safe spaces. These experiences are exacerbated by trans/non-binary young people who are being deadnamed, misgendered and invalidated.

·      Research has shown that 1 in 4 LGBT+ people experience domestic abuse from their families or partners. The figure is much higher for people in their first relationships. 80% of trans people have experienced abusive behaviour from their partner or ex-partner which they may have to spend a lot of time with during lockdown.

·      Trans and non-binary healthcare has been majorly affected by the pandemic. Gender Identity Clinics are operating on reduced capacity, appointments have been cancelled and gender-affirming surgeries have been postponed. It’s expected that trans people may have to wait over 2 years for vital healthcare. This has a significant impact on trans and non-binary young people’s mental health and gender dysphoria.

·      LGBT+ young people are disproportionately affected by insecure housing. 24% of homeless young people are LGBT+, and 69% of homeless LGBT+ young people have experienced violence, abuse, or rejection in the family home. Lockdown is expected to lead to more unstable housing conditions, for example LGBT+ young people staying with friends or partners to avoid discrimination in family homes. Ultimately, this may increase the risk of homelessness and may affect people’s access to healthcare and medication.

·      Digital poverty is prominent amongst various segments of Scotland’s communities. Access to the digital world is particularly important to young LGBT+ people who are at increased risk of isolation or experiencing discrimination in their living environments.

·      LGBT Youth Scotland has evidence that LGBT+ people may be challenged by the police when leaving their homes due to unconscious bias. For example, LGBT+ couples are questioned as not living in the same household or questioned for their reasons for being outdoors.

·      LGBT+ young people already experience high rates of mental ill health, with 84% of LGBT young people and 96% of young trans people indicating that they experienced a mental health problem. Increased isolation and stress related to Covid19 will exacerbate these figures and the suspension of mental health services may leave many LGBT+ young people unsupported. Even when services resume, it is estimated that waiting times will be even longer.