To mark Purple Friday, the last Friday of LGBT History Month, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex young people from across Scotland speak out about their experiences of poor mental health, and thank the people who supported them, in a bid to help save and change lives.
Speaking to party leaders and members of Scottish Parliament ahead of the national day of action against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, young people urged politicians and to act as ‘purple heroes’ by standing for equality to show support for LGBTI people to end prejudice and discrimination.
The impact of LGBTI young people experiencing prejudice and discrimination can be devastating; with many young people reporting that they experience poor mental health, low confidence and self-esteem, as a direct result.
In LGBT Youth Scotland’s survey of LGBT young people from across Scotland, almost 70% said that they had experienced homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic bullying in school. Experiencing bullying had a significant impact on LGBT young people’s mental health: 44% of those who had experienced homophobic or biphobic bullying and 69% of those who had experienced transphobic bullying consider themselves to have a mental health problem.
Speaking about his experiences Luke Murphy, 22, commented:
‘I was bullied throughout high school. I didn’t have any friends and there was name calling. I couldn’t attend PE as I was afraid of being attacked in the changing rooms.’
Luke said the person who helped him most was his Sunday school teacher. He said:
‘My Sunday school teacher was amazing; she supported me the whole way. She's walked out of things because people told me I couldn't attend it because I was transgender and she really was the rock throughout my transition. I still remember that she would tell me to hold my head up high.’
He added: ‘I am comfortable with who I am now, but for young people going through what I did, there needs to be more education, understandings and support in schools.’
Sharing his story about the importance of supportive allies and friends, Tyler Kerr, 17, said:
‘I had this youth worker, and her name is Sandra and she's quite well known around LGBT Youth Scotland. I think she noticed that I just wasn't my usual self so she sat me down and we just chatted and I felt like I got so much off my chest.’
Speaking about how his mental health has improved since receiving support from LGBT Youth Scotland, Tyler said:
‘I'm at such a high point. Knowing what I know now I feel like trying to talk to more people about mental health is really important. Everyone has a right to their own identity. No one can take that away from you.’
Giving advice to other LGBT young people having a difficult time Kyle Prele, 18, said:
‘I want people to realise that it doesn't matter if you come out ten thousand times, totally confused as to who you are. As long as one day you figure it out and you're happy with that, then that's all that really matters.’
‘I want people to know that it’s OK to be gay. And you’re not weird of different, you’re just you.’
Fergus McMillan, Chief Executive of LGBT Youth Scotland said:
‘We’re calling on people to be ‘purple heroes’ by showing support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex youth and the wider community to help to save and change lives.’
‘Friends and allies are crucial in supporting LGBTI young people to feel safe, accepted and included, in order to live happy, healthy lives and reach their full potential.’
‘The support for Purple Friday has been tremendous, with schools holding ‘wear purple’ non- uniform days, community groups raising funds to support our work, and MSP’s and MPs wearing purple ribbons in Parliament and signing our purple hero pledge.’
‘For the first time we are seeing buildings lit up in purple, with people across Scotland keen to show their support for LGBTI young people.’‘Look out for purple lights near you tonight, from Perth Concert Hall, Scotland’s National Galleries, to as far north as Inverness Castle.’