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CEO Blog: February 2023

Content warning: This blog discusses anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination violence, death and abuse.

As I sit and write this, LGBT+ History Month draws to a close for another year. It seems hard to believe that we are only two months into 2023.

This month we saw the tragic death of Brianna Ghey, a 16 year old trans girl in Warrington. While the trial of her killers and full details are yet to be made public, we know that some of her friends have reported the bullying that preceded her death.

Sadly this is an all too common experience for LGBTQ+ young people. Research by Just Like Us showed that LGBT+ school pupils are twice as likely to have been bullied and 91% have heard negative language about being LGBT+ in the past year. The number of hate crimes recorded in England and Wales hit a record high this year with a 41% increase in sexual orientation hate crimes and 56% increase in transgender hate crimes.

Following ILGA's Annual Review report a week earlier, showing Anti-LGBTQ+ violence across Europe to be at a decade-high, on Monday of this week Hope Not Hate published their annual State of Hate report, which among it's detailing of far-right extremism in the UK, has a section on anti-LGBT+ hate which details the disproportionate media attention given to LGBTQ+ and specifically trans people often including alarmist misinformation, and the demonisation of LGBTQ+ people. We have also seen this language and rhetoric increasingly used in hate crime reports we have received as part of our 3rd party hate crime reporting service. When people try to justify the messages in the media and online, cited as "free speech" or "debate", they fail to recognise the real life impact of these words and the actions they inspire.

This all seems very negative, and it is undeniable that life in the UK currently is increasingly difficult for LGBTQ+ people with abuse and discrimination impacting mental wellbeing and quality of life.

SAYiT's mission is to support the mental wellbeing of LGBTQ+ young people, and as part of this, in addition to the direct support we provide to young people through group and one-to-one work, counselling and hardship provision, we work to improve the world around them, reducing the discrimination they may face and improving knowledge and understanding of LGBTQ+ issues.

With this in mind, in January we held our Faith and Sexualities conference bringing together LGBTQ+ representatives of different faith groups to discuss the experiences of LGBTQ+ people of faith, some of the positive moves forward and challenges faced and how we can better support our overlapping communities.

In the current climate, having a 'safe space' where you can be yourself and feel comfortable, supported and not judged is more important than ever. Due to increased demand for our services, we recently moved into a larger space, and over the past couple of months have seen the positive impact on our young people of physically creating and taking ownership of the youth space as they designed our counselling rooms, snug (our quiet / sensory room) and group room.

Things may be tough at the moment, and while this may continue for now, I remain confident that in the long term things will get better and we will continue to work to make sure that happens.

Heather Paterson


February 2023

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