Today we launch the biggest piece of research ever undertaken on LGBT young people in Scotland. Our research is a snapshot of what Life in Scotland for LGBT Young People in 2022 is like across a whole range of areas education, work, bullying, health, rights, happiness, experiences of discrimination and much more.
We have had a version of this research about every five years for the last 15 years. This means that we can also begin to look at long term trends: what’s getting better; what’s getting worse and where has there been neither progress nor regression?
Over the last five years since our last research was published, the world has changed in many ways. For the first time the survey looks at impacts of Covid the impacts of how the LGBT community are represented by the media.
The research shows that over the last 15 years experiences across most areas have got worse, for example:
Some good news…
Dr Mhairi Crawford, Chief Executive of LGBT Youth Scotland said
“We hear a lot about LGBT people, most often from people who are older and not community members, but rarely do we hear directly from LGBT young people. This important research gives voice to their experiences across a number of areas such as education, work, health, hate crime and much more. But the research is more than just a snapshot of what it’s like now, we are able to compare back to our previous research and see how things are changing over time. Sadly, overall, things are getting worse for LGBT young people in Scotland across most areas”
Dr Crawford continued “It is important that young people feel valued and listened to and are supported to be the best and honest self. Doing so allows them to thrive and survive. However, for too many LGBT young people they experience high levels of bullying, poorer mental health and other inequalities. This research shows that we call can take action in our everyday lives to listen to and empower young people. This is particularly true for decision makers in Holyrood and local authorities across the country who can have a big impact on the lives of young people.
“Disparity of experience is again clear between those who live rurally and in urban centres, and we also for the first time look at the experiences of disabled LGBT young people and of course we have had a look at the impacts of Covid – which showed a surprising range of experiences, with some young people talking about having time out being a good thing as they were able to self reflect and explore their identity. Where as for others they talked about it negatively as they were in homes in lockdown with people who did not know about or respect their LGBT identity.
Amy Winter, Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament, made this statement on reading the report
“Throughout the Life in Scotland document there are many saddening statistics but for me as a neurodivergent person the most hard hitting was that 1 in 5 LGBT+ neurodiverse individuals left school early due to homophobia, biphobia or transphobia.
This leaves these individuals in the difficult situation of having to play catch up with their peers, I firmly believe that no one should ever have to leave school due to any form of bullying, harassment or discrimination.
Action needs to be taken to better educate, young people on how to be more inclusive of others and open to those different from themselves.”
Fin Buchan, another member of the Scottish Youth Parliament said
“Life in Scotland gives us a great idea of what living in Scotland is really like for LGBT young people, and is a great standpoint for looking at how we improve those conditions.
Having had a look at the research, it’s really saddening to see that in quite a few areas, things have gotten worse. We are hearing young people speak about extremely long waiting times for an appointment at a gender identity clinic. Personally, I was referred to Sandyford's young person’s gender service in late 2018. I have now been moved to the adult waiting list and still haven’t been seen.
It’s crucial that this research reaches the right people and is used to take action and change things for the better for LGBT young people.”
Christine Mckelvie MSP, Minister for Equalities responded directly to the report at an event to launch the findings last night (25th April 2022) at the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh, saying that
“this report is a sobering reminder that although we have made significant steps towards achieving a more equal society in Scotland for LGBTI people, we cannot ever be complacent. We must continue to work hard to make sure that Scotland is a place where young people feel proud to be themselves and where no one is denied rights or opportunities because of their gender identity or sexual orientation."
"I want to take this opportunity to thank LGBT Youth Scotland for carrying out this research and assure you that we acknowledge the serious concerns it highlights, and we will work to address these issues."