LGBT charity tells young people to ‘hit pause’ on coming out while in lockdown with parents
An LGBT+ charity has advised young people to “hit pause” on coming out while self-isolating with their families during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Albert Kennedy Trust (AKT), a charity that cares for the LGBT+ homeless, has warned young people to “think hard” before coming out at this time.
“If you’re a young person and you’re thinking of coming out, press pause on that until you get support,” Tim Sigsworth, AKT’s CEO, told Sky News.
He expressed concern for how families may react to their child coming out in this particularly stressful time, and warned of the dangers of being made homeless during the pandemic.
“You can’t predict at these completely unprecedented times how your parents will react. They, like you, are under a lot of stress and they may not react in a positive way.
“We’re all being told to self-isolate, so being on the streets, it has to be the most dangerous place for a vulnerable young person at the moment,” he said.
Councils were asked to house all rough sleepers after the UK went into lockdown, but that can be hard when individuals start showing symptoms of the virus.
“We had a young person very early on in the crisis who was staying in a hostel, but then started to show symptoms and the hostel asked them to leave,” Sigsworth said.
“They had nowhere to stay and no family; their family had rejected them. They had no work, no options other than the street.”
LGBT+ youth are at particular risk of homelessness even at the best of times, making up a quarter of the UK’s young homeless population – with family rejection being the prime reason for sleeping rough.
Research by AKT last year found that a quarter of UK adults would feel “ashamed” to have an LGBT+ child.
More than one in ten wouldn’t want their child to bring home a same-sex partner, while one in five would worry about how family members would respond to them having an LGBT+ child.
With the pandemic cutting off alternative options, the situation has significantly worsened for many.
Last month the UK-based LGBT Foundation received its highest number of weekly calls to its helpline since the beginning of the year, more than double the number received in the same period last year.
“We’ve had people ringing up because they’re concerned about the effect COVID-19 would have on existing health issues, people calling about being trapped with families or partners who are hostile to them, or just like everyone else scared about what the future holds,” staff member Kayla Le Roux said.