Childline and LGBT Youth Scotland there for young people questioning or thinking about sexual orientation and gender identity

Glasgow 2014

ChildLine and LGBT Youth Scotland there for young people worried about sexual orientation or gender identity

Ahead of Scotland’s biggest LGBT* Pride celebration in Glasgow (19 July), NSPCC Scotland’s ChildLine service has emphasised to young people with concerns about sexual orientation or gender identity that their counsellors are there to listen, no matter what their worry.

Last year, (2012/13) ChildLine’s confidential helpline counselled over 5,300 children and young people from across the UK who were concerned about their sexual orientation and gender identity. ChildLine bases in Aberdeen and Glasgow handled 18% of these contacts, with local volunteers delivering 953 counselling sessions.

Many of the young people who contacted the NSPCC’s ChildLine helpline were incredibly worried and stressed about coming out to loved ones about their sexual orientation or gender activity. One of the greatest causes of anxiety was parental reaction with many not knowing ‘what to do or how to start the conversation’.

In over a third of cases (36%), the ChildLine volunteer they spoke to on the phone or online was the first person they had told about coming out. Often they struggled to find the words to tell their parents and friends for fear of disappointment or anger, with many scared of being disowned.

Susan Dobson, NSPCC Scotland’s ChildLine service manager, said:

“If a young person is concerned about their sexual or gender identity or anxious about coming out, ChildLine volunteers in Aberdeen and Glasgow are trained and ready to work with them to help support them on their journey. ChildLine is there to listen not to judge, and what’s said stays between you and ChildLine.

“Coming out can be a hugely emotional time, and if the young person faces negative reactions it can be extremely painful, particularly if the negative reaction is from somebody they care for.

“ChildLine can support you to be yourself. We can help you explore how you might tell friends and family, help you find the words to explain and can offer a safe place to rehearse what you want to say.”

Fergus McMillan, Chief Executive of LGBT Youth Scotland, said:

“One of the most important messages we can send to young people who are in the process of coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, or questioning their gender identity or sexual orientation, is that they are not alone. That’s why getting in touch with LGBT Youth Scotland or attending a youth group nearby and calls to ChildLine are so important during that time.

“You’re not alone and there are trained and supportive people available to help make the coming out process easier to cope with, and your sexual orientation and gender identity something to be proud of and not hidden away.”

One boy was counselled by ChildLine’s Glasgow base was worried about coming out to his parents after his boyfriend’s parents reacted negatively:

“I’m really worried about telling my parents that I’m gay because I’m not sure if they will be angry with me. It’s getting me really stressed just thinking about it. My boyfriend recently came out to his parents and they kicked him out so I’m scared my parents will do the same. I don’t know what to do or how I should start the conversation? I’m so scared.”**

A girl, aged 12-15, contacted ChildLine’s Glasgow base because she was struggling to keep her sexuality a secret from her parents and was scared about their reaction:

“I’ve been confused about my sexuality for the last few years but I haven’t spoken to anyone about it. I think I’m a lesbian because I’m constantly attracted to girls. I hate not being honest about who I am but I’m not sure how my parents would react if I told them. I don’t want them to be angry or disappointed with me, but I don’t know if I can live this lie for much longer”**

One boy who was counselled by the ChildLine Aberdeen base was upset after being bullied and isolated at school and anxious about speaking about it to his parents:

“There are some people at school who keep calling me names because they found out that I’m gay. I’m finding it really upsetting but none of my friends are supporting me. It’s like I can’t escape the bullies because they bombard my phone with abusive messages too. I’ve thought about speaking to my parents about what’s going on, but I’m not sure I’m ready to come out to them yet. I feel so depressed and alone. I wish I could change who I was – things would be so much easier then.”**

One girl was counselled by the Aberdeen ChildLine base after self-harming to try and cope with her bisexuality:

“I wish I could change myself - I’m bisexual and I hate it. Sometimes I cut myself because I feel so depressed. I haven’t told anyone how I’m feeling because it’s an awkward conversation and I’m scared they would judge me. I feel so alone.”**

ChildLine can offer support to children and young people who are discovering or coming to terms with their sexual orientation or gender identity over the phone (0800 1111) or online (childline.org.uk). LGBT Youth Scotland offers local groups and drop-in sessions, where young people can meet their LGBT or questioning peers in a safe and friendly space.

The NSPCC’s PINCC organisational group (Pride in NSPCC and Colleagues and Children) will be walking in the March at this year’s Pride event in Glasgow on 19th July and will also have a stall within the market place with the other children’s charities. They will be offering information on the NSPCC’s services, free giveaways and the chance to chat with children, young people and their families and also available for professionals to talk with PINCC about NSPCC and ChildLine services. LGBT Youth Scotland will be hosting the youth space at Pride and are encouraging children, young people and their families to come along and meet them there.


*LGBTQI (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Questioning Intersex)

1 A high proportion of calls answered by ChildLine bases in Scotland will be from young people in Scotland, but will also be from young people located elsewhere in the UK.

** All names and potentially identifying details have been changed to protect the identity of the child or young person. Snapshots are created from real ChildLine contacts but are not necessarily direct quotes from the young person

Calls are free and don’t show up on phone bills. The ChildLine website has a ‘hide button’ which diverts the page away. ChildLine is strictly confidential.

About NSPCC Scotland
NSPCC Scotland provides preventative services to stop child abuse before it starts. Our vision is to end cruelty to children in Scotland and we make a difference for all children by standing up for their rights, listening to them, helping them when they need us and by making them safe. NSPCC Scotland runs projects and services across Scotland to help vulnerable children and their families. We also provide ChildLine a free, confidential 24-hour helpline and online service for children and young people as well as a UK-wide helpline for adults who are worried about a child or want advice.

If you have concerns about a child or young person, you can call the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000, text 88858 or visit www.nspcc.org.uk
Children and young people can contact ChildLine on 0800 1111 or visit www.childline.org.uk

For more information about our work in Scotland visit www.nspcc.org.uk/scotland or follow us on twitter @NSPCC_Scotland

About LGBT Youth Scotland

LGBT Youth Scotland is the largest youth and community-based organisation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Scotland.

www.lgbtyouth.org.uk or 0141-552-7425.

Facebook and Twitter – lgbtys

For further information, please contact Meriel Clunas, NSPCC communications coordinator for Scotland, on 0141 420 6546.