New research into the experiences lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Ireland has found that many face abuse and violence.
The research highlights the negative effects of stigmatisation, harassment and discrimination – what is termed Minority Stress – on LGBT people.
Some of the key findings that demonstrate the level of harassment experienced by LGBT people are:
* 80% of online respondents had been verbally abused because of their LGBT identity
* 40% were threatened with physical violence
* 25% had been punched, kicked or beaten
* 58% reported the existence of homophobic bullying in their schools
* Over half had been called abusive names related to their sexual orientation or gender identity by fellow students
* 40% had been verbally threatened by fellow students
* 25% of the overall sample had been physically threatened by their school peers
* 20% missed or skipped school because they felt threatened or were afraid of getting hurt at school
* 34% reported homophobic comments by teachers or other staff members
* A quarter of those who had ever worked had been called abusive names related to their sexual orientation or gender identity with 15% being verbally threatened and 7% physically threatened by work colleagues
According to Odhrán Allen, Director of Mental Health Strategy at the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network:
“A significant number LGBT people in the study, most particularly younger LGBT, endured these distressing experiences without support.
“Many also faced additional stress from experiences such as very high levels of homophobic bullying in schools and physical and verbal attacks. This had a negative impact on their mental health, leading to significant levels of psychological distress, self-harm and suicidality.
“Resilience, or the ability to cope with this stigmatisation and harassment came primarily from developing strong social sources of support and developing a positive LGBT identity.
“The support of friends and family, and positive experiences in communities, schools or workplaces are critical in developing this resilience.
“The study also found that the majority (81%) of LGBT people are now comfortable with their identity, with over two thirds of respondents disclosing their identity (coming out) to all their immediate families.” said Allen.
“This research is the most significant study of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender mental health and well-being in Ireland to date,” said Michael Barron, Director of BeLonG To Youth Service, commissioners of the research along with GLEN.
The report outlines findings from 1,110 completed online surveys and from 40 in-depth face-to-face interviews with LGBT people of all ages.
The research was conducted by the Children’s Research Centre in TCD and the School of Education at UCD.
The research found that the most common age that LGBT people realised their sexual orientation or gender identity was 12 years of age, with the average being 14 years; the most common age that they disclosed their identity to others was 17 years of age, with the average being 21 years.
“On average, there was a seven-year period between people knowing they were LGBT and disclosing this to others.
“This period of vulnerability coincided with participant’s school-going years and their negotiation of early adulthood – a time of critical social and emotional development,” said Mr Barron.