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Comment: It's time to stop talking and start listening to LGBT young people

Posted 18 October, 2021 by Catherine Bromley

A new national survey is our chance to hear Scotland's LGBT young people tell it like it is, writes Paul Daly (pictured)

Much has changed in the nearly five years since LGBT Youth Scotland’s last survey on the experiences and lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans young people in Scotland, and not all for the better.

In recent years we’ve been through multiple elections, a global pandemic, and a period of intense public discussion around the rights and experiences of LGBT people on a scale never seen before. Our latest survey considers new facets of life that previously would not have been considered.

In the last Life in Scotland survey, we didn’t ask about the media or social media. This seems unthinkable now, given that these are two of the areas where the young people we work with – particularly trans young people – feel most unsafe and misrepresented.

In an increasingly digital world, we are able to hear from more voices than ever. Yet, often, the voices that are drowned out amid the din are those we should be listening to most carefully.

We are hoping to make this the biggest piece of research yet on LGBT young people in Scotland.

By asking young people about their experiences and views on issues like education, health services, safety, housing, representation, the media, and the impacts of Covid, we can help to paint a picture of the real and varied lives of LGBT young people in Scotland – without the spin.

The data and the stories we gather will allow us to tell decision-makers in the Scottish Government, NHS, local authorities, and beyond about what needs to happen to make life better for LGBT young people.

This will be the third time we have conducted this survey, meaning we can begin to identify trends and establish whether things are getting better, staying the same or getting worse for LGBT young people in Scotland, across a whole range of areas.

We hope that by putting the voices of LGBT young people front and centre, this research can start to shift the focus to the one question that really matters: what can each of us do to make Scotland the best place for LGBT young people to grow up?

The survey is open to anyone aged 13-25 who identifies as LGBTI in Scotland. We appreciate we are asking for young people to be honest about areas that they may find difficult and have ensured there is appropriate signposting within the survey to where they can find support if and when they need it.

It feels timely that our latest national survey launches at a point when hearing directly from LGBT young people is so urgently needed.

Ultimately, we need to stop talking about LGBT young people, and start listening.

Paul Daly is Policy and Research Manager with LGBT Youth Scotland

The Life in Scotland for LGBT Young People survey, which can be completed anonymously,  is seeking responses from young people aged 13-25 who identify as LGBTI. Click here for the link to the survey.