Content warning: This blog discusses anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination, violence and abuse.
It's hard to believe that only three months have passed since my last SAYiT blog post as so much has happened both at SAYiT and across the country for LGBTQ+ people.
Just last week we hosted Sheffield's annual IDAHoBiT (International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia) event where I spoke about the rapidly declining situation for LGBTQ+ people in the UK.
In the week preceding IDAHoBiT, 30 LGBTQ+ organisations wrote to GAHNRI raising concerns about the EHRC's current opposition to the legislative protection of trans people, the UK fell again to 17th place in ILGA's annual ranking of LGBTI human rights across Europe, and UN Independent Expert, Victor Madrigal-Borloz released a statement on his visit to the UK stating “I am deeply concerned about increased bias-motivated incidents of harassment, threats, and violence against LGBT people, including a rampant surge in hate crimes in the UK.”
We continue to see increasingly hostile anti-LGBTQ+ messaging from our politicians and media and the real-life impact of this translating to the increase in hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people. Official figures released by the UK government reveal a 41% rise in hate crimes targeting sexuality and a 56% increase against trans people in the past year, marking the starkest annual increase since 2012.
At SAYiT we are seeing the mental health impact of this on the young people we support, who are feeling less safe, experiencing increased anxiety and impacts on their confidence to freely and comfortably express their identities. In recognition of this we have just commenced delivering a series of sessions with our young people (with thanks to funding from South Yorkshire PCC) on the mental health impacts of hate crime.
It is a rapidly changing climate for LGBTQ+ people and it is important to us to ensure that the support we offer is tailored to meet the needs of our young people's current environment.
We are also aware that for many professionals supporting young people, keeping up with LGBTQ+ specific issues can be challenging. To help navigate this we are introducing a new bimonthly Working with LGBTQ+ Young People Forum where professionals can hear a short presentation detailing some of the current issues impacting LGBTQ+ communities to keep their knowledge up to date, followed by a discussion session where you can seek advice and support about any issues you may be facing in your practice.
If you want to know how you can better support your LGBTQ+ friends, family, colleagues and service users, we are also running a Pride Month talk on Ways to be a better LGBTQ+ ally.
Things may be tough at the moment, but we will continue to work with our young people to navigate these challenges and empower young LGBTQ+ people to live the most positive fulfilled lives possible. If you are, or someone you know or are working with, is a young LGBTQ+ person or questioning their sexual/gender identity and would benefit from some additional support or just to meet like-minded supportive people in a safe, judgement-free environment then get in touch.