As you may know or not know LGBT+ plus history month so it is month where a majority of LGBT+ plus pride takes although here in the Uk they start in April through to September near enough every large town and every world definitely every city a really large town in the UK now has an LGBT+ pride event which is absolutely amazing and fantastic and I am not gonna justify why we have pride because that’s another blog. I’m going to talk about being LGBT+ plus and being a care experienced person and growing up in the care system being LGBT+ plus in my previous in my last employment I did a massive health survey on there on experienced people and 14% identified as LGBT+ plastic which is twice the number that Stonewall think is prevalent in the UK (7%) so if you agreed to figure it out seven percent of people in the UK or LGBT+. Now I’ve also run or I’ve set up three LGBT+ youth groups as well and in all of my youth groups I’ve run or we had at least one or two people who were in the care system you know fostered usually that was one or two out of five or six, in the bigger group it was four out of 15.
So there’s definitely a higher prevalence of LGBT+ young people in the care system and sadly if you go to Albert Kennedy trust or ask any of the youth charities a good percentage of them are in care because they are LGBT+ either their family kicked them out all the environment was so toxic they could no longer be safe in there so the people who are care experienced in LGBT+ plus as you can imagine they are a vulnerable minority within a vulnerable minority so there are many issues that are prevalent one is coming out so any you know young people who are LGBT+ parts in the care system so they need to come out in more places than they would if they were at home with m and dad so you know they come across more professionals and more adults in their life than they would if they were not in the care system they’re also very very worried that their foster carers or their staff in their children’s home will treat them differently
I know when I used to do my training in one of my other jobs this psychologist who was part of the mental health trust and I actually complained about the other people on my course also put in a complaint. He basically when I told him I grew up in care he interrogated me about my relationship with my father was your mother absent all this and maybe that’s why you’re gay because of the orientation of this, obviously, this could have been triggering for me. I have had other care experienced people say similar in regards to their gender identity it being implied maybe that’s why and they’re confused?
Coming out is an issue as well, feeling they need to be out, with multiple placement changes this is amplified, and whether or not their family and or placement would accept don’t forget they might still have access to their family and still have a relationship with them.
Many will also experienced a lot of heteronormative assptions you know so by this i mean you know the LGBT+ plus and they are being asked heteronormative questions so if it’s a young man do you have a girlfriend a young girl young woman do you have a boyfriend you know you know cisgender perceptions around their gender identity you know the fact that it might be gender fluid and people are like well you were a boy last week and i understand you regale his weight what’s this all about you know what’s going on you know i can’t understand it you know and even around the key issue you know a lot of assptions that it’s because they are in care because of traas because of the abuse that’s why their gender their assignment at birth is not the gender they feel they are or they feel their gender third or they feel that gender non-conforming you know a lot of struggles around these ideas so they’re not quite sure how to deal with it you know again there’s there’s issues around adults coming into the life a lot of professionals being suddenly put in and that this situation came over analyzed and over-examined rather than the young person just being allowed to explore that on their own allowed to go on their own journey the journey is often described and directed into a certain direction rather than the young person being able to explore it themselves and being allowed to do that in a safe environment and be be guided rather than directed you know and supported as well so it’s all about them and then he’s not the needs of the professionals because often it’s about the knees or the professionals not a young person’s needs you know i’ve heard of some awful examples of of staff and carers not using the chosen pronouns or the preferred pronouns one case of of of the refusal to change files so using the dead name all the time and the young person saying that’s not my name anymore it’s this and i want my performance reported instance of my dead name redacted and the new name put in place and that was refused you know quite like because it was just too much effort.
I was shocked as well about a well known big national organisation’s lack of HIV awareness as well but there’s an assumption that if you say to a young gay young man by sexual with other men and you need to consider the risk of HIV you’ve been homophobic you’re not okay so the last time I looked it hasn’t changed since then one in 600 of the general population have HIV the rate of HIV amongst gay and bisexual men is between 1 and 8 and 1 in 12 depending on where you are in the country geographically okay so one in eight or twelve is a lot more than one in six hundred so if you are giving inaccurate sexual health messages and HIV prevention messages to young gay and bisexual men that is not helpful or supportive to them.
You need to be given specific messages around HIV to young and bisexual specifically around their sexual orientation because you know the sex lives of the young gay men tends to be a lot different too about their heterosexuals. So know about PrEP Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (the medication you can take to minimalise to virtually 0 the chances of contracting HIV) and PEP Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (The medication you can take if you feel there Is a strong chance you have been exposed to HIV, Which a concentrated form of HIV meds taken for a month.
We know care exoerienced people are 33 times not more likely to be involved in selling sex and sexual exploitation so if you look at young LGBT+ based people especially young gay and bisexual men in the care system and they’re transitioning out of the care system you can imagine and i will explain it to you in case you don’t finally get it but they’re probably much more likely to be involved in this you know mainly because they’re very very vulnerable and you know for not being supported properly especially if they are in unregulated accommodation they need connection and they need affection then they’re probably going to be doing things that put them at risk i know this for a fact because i know one young man who’s in the last support and this is from a very well known charity (the same one with a lack of HIV awareness) this young man was selling sex he was escorting was you know because he needed extra money and i would say he needed basically effective connection this was probably that was the main driver, for this and he said he couldn’t talk to them about this, so how were they helping him?
There’s a lot of young male sex workers who grew up in the care system when I used to work for a sexual project in Soho (London) in sexual health promotion and they had a what they called a rent boy clinic and that was the name they chose this was 20 years ago as well so a lot of them over half of the young men had been in the care system who came along to that clinic and there in mind that one in a hundred of the population is care experienced this was 50% of the young men accessing the clinic, this was dozens of young men let down by the system
Care experienced people are so much more likely to be vulnerable so that is also an issue because you know and also with uh who are wanting to have surgery access to access to hormones and medications that they may not actually get because of the waiting lists and the times that you know people who are who are wanting to confirm their gender. I wonder for those who decide to self finance their transition, how they may do this bearing in mind what we know about care experienced people being more likely to be involved In selling sex, not to assume they will use this route, we do I feel need to be mindful of this.
It seems, that LGBT+ young people in the Care System am not really a priority for anybody, I feel the belief is that because equality has been achieved, albeit not fairly that people assume the issues such as homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia are no longer a problem or an issue in society and more notably the Care System. The care review “case for change” has just been published and the entire 100-page document, LGBT isn’t mentioned once, race and disability I mentioned numerous times for out the document. It’s only mentioned twice in the 38-page summary and even here it’s not a stand-alone subject that part of other groups.
Here are some findings that have become a piece of research carried out, by the university of east Anglia that was released in 2017 called “ Speak Out”
The national survey of local authorities and England found that 38% of local authorities, had a general policy that included LGBT+ young people, but only 5% have a specific policy, and recording LGBT+ identities was rare. There was relies on an individual and reactive practice with our collective recognition of the LGBT+ young people’s needs.
Support for LGBT+ young people was said to be limited by lack of both knowledge and confidence and local authorities were keen to improve practice (So the case for change clearly missed the mark in ignoring LGBT+ young people)
Focus groups with professionals
There was recognition of intergenerational differences in in understand our sexuality and gender and the need for professionals to examine and sometimes RE evaluate their own attitudes.
It was felt that professionals my avoid discussing the sexuality of young people because of the general culture unease about talking about sexuality, particularly with young people.
It was suggested that there might be a tendency to review sexuality from the prison of risk for young people in care and that this could also apply to LGBT+ young people.
The importance of an in-depth exploration of the attitudes of Foster carers towards LGBT+ young people as part of the approval process was emphasize since young people in care often already face rejection in their lives.
Many young people you strategies to conceal their sexual orientation from peers and carers some found it hard to knowledge to themselves that their mind the LGBT after growing up in a heteronormative or homophobic environment.
Across the interviews there was a widespread experience of homophobia biphobia and transphobia. Transphobia a different quality to homophobia, where the young people became an object of curiosity. Non-conforming gender expression could make the young person a target of bullying from their early childhood.
Young people also encounter stigma about being in care and were sensitive to, it’s about their parents and to be the difference between their placements ad other families.
Some young people chose to conceal one aspect of their identity after being bullied about other aspects.
LGB and questioning young people
Some young people feared that coming out in care would result in rejection and placement breakdown, but for others’s living in care offer an opportunity to explore the LGBT+ identity.
Several young people concealed their sexual orientation from carers and professionals resulting in isolation, increased vulnerability, and sometimes placement breakdown.
When young people came out in care has an LGB it helps when Foster carers were accepting and reassured the young person of their commitment to them. However several young people had experienced reactions that they found unhelpful, such as the Foster carers suggesting it was a phase, they were confused, too young, or would attribute their sexuality to a history of abuse. Some experienced overt homophobia including a Foster Care or terminating the placement and.
Birth family acceptance of sexual orientation was very important to most young people and their families range from accepting to rejecting. A few young people were clear they would never want their families to know as it would put them at risk.
Young people reported less overt homophobia from social workers. However, they experienced heteronormative assumptions which discourage them from coming out, awkwardness and discomfort from social workers.
In regards to gender identity, they were concerned they would not be viewed as authentic if they did not want to fall physical transition, if they had not struggled with this for you from an early age he for others attributed their gender identity early childhood abuse, awful it was related to a diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder.
A few young people have begun to explore their gender identity with their Foster carers and experience their Foster carers moving too fast, asking them immediately about physical transition, or one in the young person of difficulties ahead. Other young people had found was that residential care offered a space to explore their gender identity, safer than with their birth family. However, the Trans young people in the study were often exploring their gender identity at a time of instability in relation to care placements and leaving care. Many experienced homelessness or extremely unstable accommodation post 16. There was a widespread view that leaving Care Services focused on independent living skills rather than providing a level of nurturance that could help them to explore gender. Adult support services (housing, mental health, sexual abuse survivors) were often gendered.
Interviews were Foster carers
The young people in these placements had a little money come from backgrounds of abuse and neglect, with some rejected because of the LGBT+ state is.
There was much more and the research was called “Speak Out” https://sites.uea.ac.uk/documents/8192459/8335406/RB-JC-WebVersion%252717.pdf/c93960b9-3646-308e-5b53-8e811db778f4 – Link.
This was the first-ever piece of research carried out with young LGBT+ people in the care system. Clearly as far as I am concerned shows a complete lack of regard for this group of often vulnerable young people.
Pride month especially people in the LGBT+ community please be aware of your LGBT+ brothers and sisters who grew up in the care system look out for them if you can support them and if you can to find loving compassionate empathetic caring connections with them are not sexually based okay that’s very important very very important because we need to dispel the myth in the LGBT+ in the younger LGBT+ population, care experience that in order to be loved they need to have sex with people because you don’t you know you need to stand in your own power and form those connections without sex yeah and if you are a professional working with LGBT+ plus care experienced people be mindful of of what i’ve said you know you know you don’t use heteronormative and cisgendered language you know use partner you don’t need to gender the part you may need to gender it you just have to say do you have a partner at the moment are you sexually involved with his partner how old is this partner it’s really easy you know don’t make heteronormative and cis gendered assptions about the young people in your care especially the young LGBT+ plus people you know allow them to to be self-determining in their gender identity and their sexual orientation you know just be mindful of what i’ve said about saturday which exploitation and stuff like that and just be aware that many of them will not be living in a normal model of the world you know about is important and by heteronormative i mean you know you have a couple of partners and you find your partner and you get married to them and you have kids or you live together you have kids and you do this and you do that you know you need to be aware that you know you know even heterosexual people aren’t living heteronormative lifestyles you know we need to be aware of that and also one last statistic and this was from about seven or eight years ago so it’s probably changed if not increased since 45% of young people and this was a big survey i think yougov did identified as fluid in regards to their sexual orientation fluid fluid not gay not heterosexual not bisexual fluid now i’ve seen this a lot in young people you know who say well it’s about the person it’s not about their gender it’s who the person is in front of me that’s what i’m attracted to and i think that’s a good thing you know and that again you used to be supported you know that needs to be oh i’m confused because you were the girl last time and now you’re with a boy you know what’s that all about you know you don’t you’re bisexual that’s what’s important that’s what needs to be supported not what you want them to be or what you think they are i thank you. Happy Pride month.