LGBT groups for young people in North Yorkshire forced to meet in secret due to fear of attacks

The Northern Echo – Emily Flanagan / Tuesday 1 December 2015 / Northallerton

North Yorkshire County Council's headquarters in Northallerton. A council committee has looked at the issues faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people in the county and found not enough is being done to support them

North Yorkshire County Council’s headquarters in Northallerton. A council committee has looked at the issues faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people in the county and found not enough is being done to support them

 

A REPORT has found lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people in North Yorkshire need more support, as they experience bullying and poor emotional health.

North Yorkshire County Council’s Young People’s overview and scrutiny committee found LGBT young people were the most likely social group to have been bullied at school and worried most about being different and said there was “not enough being done” to help them.

The report compiled by the committee looked at the experiences of Year ten pupils and used statistics from a 2014 survey Growing Up in North Yorkshire, which involved all local authority maintained secondary schools and the majority of school academies.

One young person told the report’s authors: “I was left stranded; my school didn’t want to know neither did my parents so the youth advice centre has been my home since I was eleven.”

Another said: “The school thought it was easier to get rid of me rather than deal with the homophobic bullying in the school.”

The report said one teenager spoke of receiving death threats at school.

County councillor Val Arnold, the chair of the task group that looked into the issue, said the young people drew strength from being able to meet and campaign together, but the two LGBT young groups in North Yorkshire had to meet in secret due to fears of attacks.

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“They also talked passionately of the strength they had gained from being able to meet and campaign together on the issues they faced,” she said.

“Yet the two local LGBT Youth groups within North Yorkshire meet in covert locations afraid to hold their meetings in open due to their real fears of physical or verbal attacks on their way to or during the meetings.”

The committee has made a series of recommendations on to how to raise awareness and understanding.

They include ensuring North Yorkshire schools’ anti-bullying policies cover LGBT and explicitly state that homophobic or transphobic bullying and language is unacceptable.
Other recommendations include staff training within schools and the creation of an environment where staff and students feel safe to ‘come out’.

In her report introduction Cllr Arnold said: “Most young LGBT people feel that their time at school is affected by hostility or fear, with consequences such as feeling left out, lower grades and having to move schools.

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“It can also result in significantly higher levels of mental health problems including depression and anxiety, self-harm and suicidal thoughts.”

The report will go before North Yorkshire County Council’s executive committee on Tuesday (December 8)

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