The stories of real teenagers and real heartache were the reason Wear It Purple Day was established ten years ago. The recent findings of the Voices of Hope: Growing Up in Queensland 2020 Report released by the Queensland Family and Child Commission (QFCC) earlier this year paints a concerning picture that not much has changed.
Growing Up in Queensland shares the perspective of 8,000 children and young people from across Queensland of which 24 per cent of participants identified as LGBTQIA.
QFCC Principal Commissioner Cheryl Vardon said the report is a temperature check of our young people, helping to guide organisations, decision-makers, and governments on what needs to be done to support LGBTQIA young people.
“Hearing from 8,000 young Queenslanders about their hopes and dreams, big issues and what is most important to them is valuable and we need to ensure these voices are amplified to decision-makers,” said Ms Vardon.
“The report revealed perceptions of belonging differed vastly with only 42 per cent of LGBTQIA participants experiencing a sense of belonging compared to 64 per cent of other young people.”
“We also heard how only 35 per cent of LGBTQIA respondents reported feeling accepted at social or community events and only 30 per cent felt accepted in public which is something we need to address,” said Ms Vardon.
Feelings of safety in the community differed substantially between participants who identified as LGBTQIA and other young people. Of the LGBTQIA youth survey participants, only half said they felt safe in their community compared to two-thirds of other participants.
Participants who identified as LGBTQIA were more likely than other participants to have experienced verbal, physical, social and online bullying. Of the LGBTQIA participants, 34 per cent had experienced online bullying, compared to only 21 per cent of other participants.
“LGBTQIA respondents were also more likely to express negative feelings about their future than other participants and no doubt this has an impact on the mental wellbeing of these young people,” said Ms Vardon.
“Our young people are passionate and thoughtful contributors to our society and policy and decision-makers should seek out young people’s voices and listen to their views.”
QFCC Youth Advocate, Grace said that the power of acceptance is greatly underestimated. “Having family and friends who love me for who I am, not in spite of who I am, and finding a community that value who I am, completely changed my life, and gave my life meaning,” said Grace.
“After six years living proudly as a bisexual/pansexual woman, I can confidently say that sexuality isn’t a phase – it’s an innate part of everyone that is constantly growing with us.”
The Voices of Hope: Growing Up in Queensland 2020 Report is a biennial survey undertaken by the Queensland Family and Children Commission and is used to advocate for young people in Queensland.
The annual Wear It Purple Day will take place this Friday 27 August 2021. For more information, visit: www.wearitpurple.org for details.
Image: Jason Leung on Unsplash