Trans and gender diverse young people experience disproportionately poor health outcomes, harassment and exclusion compared to the rest of the community, according to a national survey of their health and wellbeing.
The Writing Themselves in 4 national report, conducted by the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS) at La Trobe University, with support from Rainbow Health Victoria and Rainbow Network in 2019 asked 6,418 LGBTQA+ people aged 14 to 21 about their experiences with education, homelessness, harassment, assault, mental health, community connections and more.
Significant findings showed that the majority of LGBTQA+ youth feel supported by friends. After disclosing their sexuality or gender identity, 88.3% felt supported by their friends, while 65.2% felt supported by teachers.
However, in the past year, 40.8% had experienced verbal harassment; 22.8% sexual harassment or assault while 9.7% physical harassment or assault.
Further findings found 81% reported high or very high levels of psychological distress; 10.1% had attempted suicide in the past year, and 25.6% had attempted suicide at some point in their lives.
Additionally, 23.6% had experienced homelessness, and for 11.5%, it was in the past year. This was often directly related to family rejection of participants being LGBTQA+.
Rural youth experienced more harassment or assault and were more likely to face mental health challenges than those living in cities.
Lead researcher, La Trobe Associate Professor Adam Bourne, 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.”
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.”
If you need support, you can call QLife on 1800 184 527, the Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about youth mental health, both Headspace and Reach Out can provide guidance.