National report highlights ongoing LGBTQA+ discrimination in Australia

Warning: This article contains mentions of domestic/family violence and suicide.

The fourth national Writing Themselves In report has been released this week, exploring the experiences of young LGBTQA+ folks across a wide range of issues in Australia.

Conducted by the Australians Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society at La Trobe University with support from Rainbow Health Victoria and Rainbow Network, 6,418 LGBTQA+ Australians between 14 and 21 answered questions about education, homelessness, harassment, assault, mental health and more.

The extensive report drew a number of key findings from the data, aiming to inform future policy making and community building decisions and following up on previous studies conducted in 1998, 2005 and 2010.

Results revealed 88.3% of respondents felt supported by their friends, and 65.2% by teachers, after coming out. At the same time, 60.2% reported having felt unsafe or uncomfortable at high school due to their sexuality or gender identity. 33.8% of TAFE and 29.2% of university students also felt unsafe on campus.

The report also saw 40.8% of respondents share experiences with verbal harassment, 22.8% sexual harassment and 9.7% physical harassment or assault – while an alarming 81% reported high or very high levels of psychological distress in their lives.

La Trobe Associate Professor Adam Bourne, the project’s lead researcher, said the report highlighted the ongoing and significant impact of stigma, discrimination, violence, and abuse on LGBTQA+ young people.

“Every young person deserves to live free from harassment and exclusion, but as this report and many previous reports make clear, LGBTQA+ young people continue to experience hostility in public, in their homes, on the sports field and at school. We have to recognise that context as we reflect upon the very high rates of poor mental health that we documented,” Associate Professor Bourne said.

“The creativity and commitment to community of LGBTQA+ young people should be celebrated and admired, and ought to form the foundation for any programs addressing the hostile environment they often face.”

Other concerning figures included in the report 23.6% of respondents experiencing homelessness, with relation to family rejection over gender identity and sexuality. 25.6% of those surveyed also revealed they had made an attempt on their own lives.

Report co-author, La Trobe Research Fellow and Director of Rainbow Health Victoria, Marina Carman, said meaningful and sustained action is required to address the key issues impacting LGBTQA+ youth.

“It’s important to understand what drives these poor experiences and outcomes, to prevent harm before it occurs. We need to build on existing efforts, work toward greater coordination and build the strategic vision necessary to drive home generational change.”

Associate Professor Bourne thanked the thousands of young people who completed the Writing Themselves In 4 survey and generously provided a glimpse into their lives and experiences.

“We now have a mass of information which is providing a vital resource for those working to improve health and wellbeing outcomes for LGBTQA+ young people throughout Australia.”

You can read the full Writing Themselves In 4 report here.

OIP Staff

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