Conference Stream: Mental Health and Suicide Prevention
Presenter: Misty Farquhar
Presentation Title: A whole of community approach to supporting young LGBTI people
Program schedule: Saturday 15 August 2015 at 09:20
Duration: 20 mins
This presentation will examine the need for community organisations and schools to be prepared adequately to handle mental health and other issues related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) youth.
The consequences of the dominance of heterosexism can be significant for young people questioning their sexual and/or gender identity. A wide body of research illustrates that these young people frequently experience verbal, and the threat if not the reality of physical abuse. The result is LGBTIQ youth feeling unsafe, invisible, or isolated at school and within their community. For these reasons, LGBTI youth disengage from formal education at higher rates than their heterosexual counterparts. Many experience mental illness as a result of their experiences of heterosexism, which may also manifest in behaviours related to low self-esteem, self-harm, and significantly suicidal behaviours. And in regional areas, these issues are exacerbated.
In a whole of community approach, True Colours (a program of UnitingCare West) directly supports young LGBTI people in the South West region of WA, and also works with their families, schools, and the broader community to raise awareness and break down the barriers to safe and inclusive communities.
It is envisioned that this holistic response to heterosexism will encourage sexual and gender diversity to be celebrated, rather than silenced. The positive outcomes for LGBTI young people that would result cannot be denied, and therefore this early intervention should be promoted and encouraged.