Our guest blog for Pride Month is by Bex Shorunke, from the LGBTQ+ youth homelessness charity, akt. Bex describes the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ young people and her hopes for One Day when they will feel welcomed and safe everywhere they go.
Bullying, rejection, and pressure to ‘assimilate’
From 2015 to 2020, homophobic hate crimes in the UK trebled, and have risen by 55% in London in that same timeframe. In December 2020 there was a high court ruling stating that young people under-16 who are trans, are unable to receive life-affirming puberty blockers without their parents’ consent.
77% of the LGBTQ+ young people who come to akt – an LGBTQ+ youth homelessness charity – cite familial rejection from parents and siblings as the reason behind their homelessness. According to akt’s recent report, over half (59 per cent) of the LGBTQ+ young people surveyed had experienced discrimination or harassment whilst accessing a support service. That includes misgendering, deadnaming and outright racism in some cases. Unfortunately, the list goes on.
It can feel as though the fight for equality and acceptance for all LGBTQ+ people in all aspects of their life, is an eternal one. Bullying, rejection, and pressure to ‘assimilate’ is the burden society places on LGBTQ+ young people growing up at school, at home or just out in their community. Often, their needs are marginalised or altogether excluded from wider conversations around education, welfare, or housing.
Things are slowly getting better
It is important to acknowledge however, that to some degree, steps are being taken to address that.
For the first time in its history, the 2021 UK census included questions around gender identity and sexual orientation. This is significant, as increased visibility into the needs of the LGBTQ+ community can lead to a more LGBTQ+ inclusive approach when it comes to providing services. Additionally, in the Queen’s speech in May, the Government confirmed it is setting out a plan to ban conversion therapy once and for all (albeit three years later than originally promised).
One Day LGBTQ+ young people will not have to witness their basic human rights being debated on a global scale. Racism and discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation would not be the challenging barrier it currently is – preventing access to welfare, healthcare, and housing. There will be fair representation of queer people at board level across different sectors and at ministerial level across government. They will feel welcomed and safe everywhere they go.
However, we still have work to do to achieve this.
Still a long way to go: no young person should have to choose between a safe home and being who they are
We cannot become complacent in the fight for equal rights. A fight that is underpinned by different struggles; the disproportionate impact of unemployment, homelessness, and poor mental health on queer young people of colour and those that are trans and disabled, must be acknowledged.
Alongside that acknowledgement comes action. It is only through the joined-up efforts of specialist organisations like akt, with local authorities, service providers, funders, and policy makers – led by the lived experiences of queer young people – that we can drastically improve the life outcomes of LGBTQ+ young people and the wider community. Akt believes no young person should have to choose between a safe home and being who they are. So, let’s work to make that One Day a reality.
How you can help and further information:
- Read akt’s report to get the full scope of the issue of LGBTQ+ youth homelessness
- Follow akt on Twitter and help to raise awareness by retweeting them – @aktcharity
- If you are an organisation and would like to know how to make your workplace more LGBTQ+ inclusive, email akt on [email protected]
Our guest blogs often highlight topics of identity-based persecution today and we aim to feature a breadth of opinion. The views expressed are exclusively those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of HMDT.