Thursday, October 8th, 2020
This Sunday, October 11th marks International Coming Out Day, a day dedicated to highlighting the positive impact, and challenges faced by LGBT + people in coming out around the world.
Coming out is the main challenge faced by LGBTI+ youth in Ireland, according to new data from the national LGBTI+ youth organisation, BeLonG To Youth Services.
For 58% of young people who access the organisation’s frontline services in Dublin, coming out as LGBTI+ was their reason for reaching out for support. The organisation has experienced an 88% spike in demand for its vital services since the beginning of 2020 with LGBTI+ youth presenting with issues relating to coming out (58%), being transgender (18%), and mental health challenges (14%).
Irish research1 shows that the time between when a young person realises that they are LGBTI+ (on average 12-years-old) and when they ‘come out’ to others (on average 16-years-old) can be a period of stress and mental health risk. Young people fear that they will be rejected by their friends and families before coming out – a fear that can lead to intense anxiety and depression that can have a lasting effect. Compared to their non-LGBTI+ peers, LGBTI+ youth are two times more likely to experience self-harm, three times more likely to experience suicide ideation, and four times more likely to experience extreme stress, anxiety, and depression1.
Speaking in advance of International Coming Out Day, Moninne Griffith, CEO of BeLonG To Youth Services said: “Coming out can allow individuals to live an open, authentic and fulfilling life as themselves, and reduces some of the stress and anxiety many people feel when they are hiding part of themselves, who they are or who they love. Many LGBTI+ people say that coming out to family and friends feels like lifting a massive weight off their shoulders. Saying that we always remind LGBTI+ youth to consider whether they feel safe coming out and remember that they don’t need to tell anyone until they are ready. Coming out is a choice, not an obligation. At BeLonG To we are here to support young people who are questioning their sexual orientation and gender identity.”
She continued: “To parents, be mindful that your child needs your support when coming out. Take time to consider what you say and how this might impact your child. Remember that this is not a ‘lifestyle choice’. Your child’s sexual orientation or gender identity is inherent and nothing you did or didn’t do made them LGBT+. You can’t make someone be different to who they are meant to be, but you can support them and help them to accept and love themselves for who they are.”
BeLonG To Youth Services has a Coming Out Guide for Young People and a Coming Out Guide for Parents of LGBTI+ Youth available from www.belongto.org
International Coming Out Day is an international awareness day that has been held on October 11th every year since 1988.
Notes to Editor:
- BeLonG To CEO, Moninne Griffith is available for interview. To arrange an interview, please contact: Sinead Keane, Communications Manager. Mobile: 087 768 0389 / Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Coming out means sharing your sexual orientation and/or your gender identity with people in your life.
- BeLonG To Youth Services is a national organisation supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex young people. Since 2003, BeLonG To has worked with LGBTI+ young people to create a world where they are equal, safe and valued in the diversity of their identities and experiences. The organisation advocates and campaigns on behalf of young LGBTI+ people and offers a specialised LGBTI+ youth service including information, support, crisis counselling in partnership with Pieta House and the provision of LGBTI+ youth groups across Ireland.
1 Higgins A. et al. (2016) The LGBTIreland Report: national study of the mental health and wellbeing of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in Ireland. Dublin: GLEN and BeLonG To Youth Services.
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