Growing Up Queer Report reveals widespread homophobia in Australian schools
A new study by the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre has revealed young LGBTI people have an alarmingly high rate of self-harm, suicide and depression and experience homophobic and transphobic harassment.
Twenty10, released the findings today in a research report, Growing Up Queer conducted in conjunction with the University of Western Sydney. Over 1000 young people aged between 16 – 27 participated in the national research study, with over 60 percent reporting homophobic or transphobic harassment or violence across different aspects of their lives, including in schools, families, the workplace, the streets and other public sites, such as sporting events.
Further to this, the study found that homophobia and/or transphobia had a serious impact on these young people’s educational experiences. Oftentimes young people who had come out at school faced being bullied.
The report identified failings within schools regarding sex education, with limited resources for those young people who were LGBTI or queer identified.
Young people growing up in rural areas felt further isolation, as did those from different cultural backgrounds who felt they may be ostracised if they came out due to their community’s inherent cultural beliefs that homosexuality was wrong.
Young and Well CRC CEO, Associate Professor Jane Burns, said: “The findings of this study overwhelmingly highlight the serious impact of homophobia and transphobia, particularly when you consider that 42% of those surveyed had thought about self-harm and/or suicide."
The study revealed higher than normal rates of suicide, with LGBTIQ young people six times more likely to consider suicide. Burns said more needed to be done to address the needs of this vulnerable group.
“While there are a small number of fantastic community organisations providing support and guidance to young people identifying as LGBTIQ, such as Twenty10 incorporating the Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service NSW, much more needs to be done by way of education and training so that this dire impact on the mental health and wellbeing of these young people can be eliminated."
Burns suggested technology could play a large part in providing resources for at risk youth, with 85 percent of youth surveyed saying they used the internet to explore their sexual and gender identity.
Lead researcher Professor Kerry Robinson, of the University of Western Sydney, said: “For many people we spoke to, while peers were most frequently the source of homophobia and transphobia, it was the homophobia and transphobia perpetrated by some teachers that had the most profound impact on their lives.”
“This research clearly demonstrates the need for greater community education, training of educators, doctors and health professionals about the health and wellbeing issues facing young Australians who are gender variant and sexuality diverse,” she said.