Writing Themselves In 4 report released: SA-specific and national

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Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS) at La Trobe University, 2/2/21

This report describes South Australia-specific findings from Writing Themselves In 4: a national survey of health and wellbeing among LGBTQA+ young people in Australia.

Writing Themselves In 4 involved an online survey of people living in Australia aged between 14 and 21 years who identified as LGBTIQA+. The survey was open for completion between the 2nd September and the 28th October 2019. In total, there were 6,418 complete and valid responses to the survey.

While the sample of 640 LGBTQA+ young people in South Australia represents the largest ever survey of this population, it is an insufficient number to break responses down according to gender identity, sexuality or other key demographic characteristics. These are reported on, where possible, in the national report, which also includes a full account of recommendations for policy, practice and future research with and for LGBTQA+ young people in Australia.

Findings from the national report include:

  • After disclosing their sexuality or gender identity, 88.3 per cent felt supported by their friends and 65.2 per cent by teachers
  • In the past year 60.2 per cent reported having felt unsafe or uncomfortable at secondary school due to their sexuality or gender identity. This was also true for 33.8 per cent of those at TAFE and 29.2 per cent of those at university
  • In the past year 40.8 per cent had experienced verbal harassment; 22.8 per cent sexual harassment or assault; 9.7 per cent physical harassment or assault
  • 81 per cent reported high or very high levels of psychological distress
  • 10.1 per cent had attempted suicide in the past year, and 25.6 per cent had attempted suicide at some point in their lives
  • 23.6 per cent had experienced homelessness, and for 11.5 per cent, it was in the past year. This was often directly related to family rejection of participants being LGBTQA+
  • In relation to almost all findings, trans and gender diverse young people experienced disproportionately poor health outcomes, while rural youth had experienced more harassment or assault and were more likely to face mental health challenges compared to 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,” 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.”

By J Pope

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