Adults urged to be kinder to LGBTQI youths

Adults urged to be kinder to LGBTQI youths

Youths who identify as LGBTQI face a higher risk of discrimination both at home and in public, so youth activists are calling on adults to be more proactive in providing support and empathy for LGBTQI youths.

The call was made at "Tomorrow's Leader on Stage: All About Love", an event organised by the United Nations Development Programme and five other youth organisations, in an attempt to increase public awareness of the importance of engagement and inclusion of all youths in leadership roles across society.

In her remarks for the event's opening ceremony, UNDP Thailand's deputy resident representative, Lovita Ramguttee, said across the globe, LGBTQI youths continue to report discriminatory behaviour, both at home and in public areas, such as schools.

In the United States, she said, between 76-86% of students who identify as LGBTQI reported experiencing verbal harassment and bullying at school over their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. About a quarter, she noted, had experienced physical abuse at school.

The study Ms Lovita cited echoed the findings of a UNDP survey carried out between 2018 and 2019, which found out of the 2,210 respondents it polled, 47.5% said they have experienced at least one incidence of discriminatory behaviour from their own family.

The most common form of discrimination, she noted, was being told "to watch their appearance or the way they speak or behave" in public. Others, she noted, were pressured into heteronormative relationships in order to "please" the family.

Once again, she pointed to the UNDP survey's findings, which noted over 92.9% of respondents polled said they were more likely to be open about their sexual identities to strangers, rather than their own relatives.

At school, the UNDP survey found, LGBTQI students also reported more incidents of harassment, with 61% of respondents who identify as transwomen reporting verbal and/or physical assault as a student.

Ms Lovita noted a lot of LGBTQI youths do not have the support of their families, which increases their risk of engaging in self-harming behaviours that may have long-term health consequences.

"Bullying, family rejection and homelessness are real threats to the health and well-being of LGBTQI youths," she said. "Family rejection in particular is linked with increased depression, suicidal behaviour, substance abuse and other high-risk behaviours. Adults must be more receptive to what LGBTQI youths have to say," she said.

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