Homophobia & Transphobia Linked to Mental Health Issues for Many ‘Growing Up Queer’

New research has found 16% of young people who identify as LGBTIQ have attempted suicide and 33% have self-harmed as a result of widespread homophobic and transphobic harassment and violence in Australian society.
The Young and Well CRC, with partners the University of Western Sydney and Twenty10, has today released these disturbing findings in 'Growing Up Queer: Issues Facing Young Australians Who are Gender Variant and Sexuality Diverse.' 
More than 1000 young people aged between 16 and 27 participated in the national research study, with almost two-thirds reporting homophobic or transphobic harassment or violence across different aspects of their lives, including in schools and families, at work, in the streets, and at other public sites such as sporting events. 
Young and Well CRC CEO Associate Professor Jane Burns: 'This research suggests LGBTIQ young people are around six times more likely to consider taking their own lives than their heterosexual peers. While there are a small number of fantastic community organisations providing support and guidance to young people identifying as LGBTIQ such as Twenty10, 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.' 
'Technology has a huge part to play here: the research shows 85% of young people used the internet to explore their sexual or gender identity on sites like Minus18, Tumblr, Facebook and YouTube; 78% felt accepted, 66% felt they could find others like themselves, 60% felt safe and 57% could feel proud of their sexuality in that space,' A/Prof Burns said. 
Lead researcher, UWS' Professor Kerry Robinson, 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.' 
High profile Australians from the LGBTIQ community, including former High Court Judge The Hon. Michael Kirby and comedian Tom Ballard, lent their support. 
'These statistics are shocking and need to be known and acted upon urgently by parents, education and sporting authorities, and churches. They also have serious economic consequences for Australia,' the Hon. Michael Kirby said. 
Former triple j breakfast host Tom Ballard: 'Being a teenager can be hard enough, but these added factors of homophobia and transphobia for LGBTIQ youth can make it extra-super-sucky. We all have an obligation to confront the ignorance and bullying indicated in this research, and we’ve also got to remember to send messages of love and support to kids out there to help them get through to the other side.' 
Download Growing Up Queer: Issues Facing Young Australians Who are Gender Variant and Sexuality Diverse here. Source: Young and Well CRC 

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