Scottish LGBT youth speak up about mental health fears


A report published by LGBT Youth Scotland and launched at the Scottish Learning Festival portrays a worrying situation for many Scottish LGBT youth in regards to their experiences of the health service and also in relation to their mental health. The Life in Scotland for LGBT Young People: Health Report surveyed 350 respondents, aged 13-25, about their experiences of being LGB or T in a range of services.

Just over half (57%) said they felt safe and supported by the National Health Service (NHS) in terms of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Less than half of the LGBT young women (43%) and transgender young people (48%) said they felt this way.

40% considered themselves to have mental health problems, compared with the overall Scottish figure of 1 in 4. Just under half (44%) of the LGBT Scottish youth that had experienced homophobic or biphobic bullying in education considered themselves to have mental health problems. Over two thirds (69%) of those who had experienced transphobic bullying considered themselves to have mental health problems.

One of the unique aspects of the report is that it revealed how these LGBT youth experience the health services in different ways, depending upon their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The findings also highlighted challenges in being able to openly discuss health issues with doctors. An example of this finding is where one respondent shared: “I was as once refused a smear because I am a lesbian. I was outraged, so the next time I didn’t say anything and I got my smear test.”

Chief Executive of LGBT Youth Scotland, Fergus McMillan said: “The launch of our research today at the Scottish Learning Festival is an appeal to all teachers and other educators to support the health needs of LGBT young people in education.”

McMillan continued: “When LGBT young people experience discrimination in education, or when they lack the confidence, support or information to access appropriate health services, their health and wellbeing outcomes are not met. Teachers have the potential to improve educational outcomes for LGBT young people through LGBT inclusion and support.”


Recommendations from the report included:

1. Implementing inclusive policies across all health boards, surgeries and clinics so that LGBT youth don’t experience discrimination due to their sexual or gender orientation.

2. Rolling out programs for staff to raise their awareness of LGBT issues and to help them develop the skills for delivering adequate health care to LGBT individuals and families.

3. Embedding LGBT images in health care resources and promotional materials.

In the video below LGBT youth from Scotland share some of their experiences. The video was produced by LGBT Youth Scotland, which is a national organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning young people, aged 12 -25. If you are experiencing bullying, struggling with your sexual orientation or gender identity, or would just like to chat to someone, you can contact them. They are waiting for your call.

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