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Report Forms Basis of New Work with Young LGB People

June 11, 2003 8:41 AM

A report on Greater Glasgow's young Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual (LGB) people is forming the basis of new work to tackle health and other issues within this group.

Launched last year by NHS Greater Glasgow, the 'Something to Tell You' health needs assessment report aimed find out what difficulties young LGB people face when coming to terms with their sexuality.

It also looked at a number of key areas that affect their lives (including daily living problems) as well as identifying what services were needed to address these issues and other areas that required further research.

The project targeted young LGB people up to the age of 25 and questionnaires were placed at numerous sites across Greater Glasgow and on the internet. Thirty face-to-face interviews with people from the target group also took place.

In total, 122 questionnaires were returned covering six topic areas of:
* Mental health
* Coming out and sexual identity
* Health
* Sexual health
* Discrimination
* Services

Project coordinator, Nicky Coia, a Senior Health Promotion Officer (Sexual Health) with NHS Greater Glasgow, said: "Something to Tell You was intended to look at the difficulties faced by young lesbian, gay and bisexual people living in and around Glasgow.

"Although some of the responses were what we expected, even we were taken aback at how many young people in this group had experienced discrimination and, as a result, mental health problems.

"We're hoping that this report will form the basis of bringing together all the public agencies and young LGB people to work together to create more inclusive services and to stamp out discrimination at all levels of society."

And work has already begun to tackle some of the issues raised in the report:
* NHS Greater Glasgow is developing a LGB young people's sexual health service at the Sandyford Initiative;
* The results of the report will be included within a gay man's sexual health strategic framework currently being worked up by NHS Greater Glasgow;
* LIPS (Lesbians in Peer Support), a youth project for young lesbian and bisexual women run by Glasgow Women's Library, has secured an additional three years of funding to develop peer education initiatives based on the report;
* Glasgow City Council Cultural & Leisure Youth Services have employed a full-time LGB Youth Development Officer who has a remit to develop LGB inclusion in youth services across the city;
* The Council's Education Department is working in partnership with NHS Greater Glasgow and Stonewall Scotland to look at educational issues raised in the report including exploring effective anti-bullying measures.


So what were the findings of the report?

Mental Health

Of the 122 people who responded:
* 43% of women and 20% of men had been diagnosed with depression
* 41% of women and 31% of men were currently experiencing depressive episode
* 65% of women and 29% of men had self harmed - 58% of the combined total attributed this to their own or someone else's feelings about their sexuality; nine of the 11 respondents with low self esteem had self harmed; this could mean the figures are up to 11 times higher than in mainstream groups of young people
* 80% of woman and 50% of men had had thoughts about suicide - again higher than in mainstream young people
* 32% of women and 19% of men had considered suicide
* 53% of women and 29% of men had experienced eating difficulties attributed to their own or other people's feelings in relation to their sexuality.


Coming Out and Identity
* 97% of women and 92% who had disclosed their sexuality felt they risked changes to important relationships (family and friends)
* both women and men said they were most likely to come out to their friends, with 77% of women and 56% of men coming out to their mothers and 69% of women and 39% of men coming out to their fathers
* fear of being bullied at school was an overwhelming reason for not disclosing their sexuality

Health
* 54% of respondents had never smoked or only tried it; 50% of men who smoked were heavy smokers; more young lesbian and bisexual women (62%) smoked than young gay and bisexual men (37%)
* alcohol consumption for most respondents was under the recommended levels
* levels of illicit drug use amongst this group were low
* the majority of the group took part in some form of physical exercise, although the level was lower than in mainstream groups

Sexual Health
* a high number (81% of women and 77% of men) had had penetrative sex
* 57% of women and 80% of men did use barrier protection; 43% or women and 20% of men did not
* young LGB people used internet services, peers and the gay scene to learn about safer sex and how to put safer sex messages into practice
* incidences of diagnosed HIV, Hepatitis and STIs amongst young LGB people

Discrimination
* 80% had experienced discrimination with the most common type being name calling
* both groups were more likely to experience discrimination at school (41% women, 57% men) or in the street (38% women and 51% men)
* whilst anti-bullying policies were widespread, few LGB people were aware if such policies included LGB issues
* the group felt schools needed to do more to help LGB people

Services
* 93% were registered with a GP and few encountered any problems with services as a result of their sexuality
* there was a low use of sexual health services amongst this group, possibly due to a lack of awareness
* young lesbian and bisexual women were more likely to know about services than young gay and bisexual men
* there was a higher level of awareness and use of the Steve Retson Project (a sexual health service for gay and bisexual men) than other sexual health services amongst young gay and bisexual men
* the proposed new young men's service run by the Steve Retson Project was welcomed with 84% of men stating they would use it
* there was a low level of awareness and use of Sappho (the lesbian health service) amongst young lesbian and bisexual women
* Glasgow Women's Library and the LIPS peer support project were popular services with young lesbian and bisexual women


For further information, contact:
Dawn Nelson Tel:  0141 201 4912 or
E-mail:   [email protected]

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