58% of LGBTQ+ Irish youth say ‘coming out’ is still the main challenge faced

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.

Coming Out LGBTQ+

This Sunday, October 11 marks International Coming Out Day, a day dedicated to highlighting the positive impact, and challenges faced by LGBTQ+ people in coming out around the world. International Coming Out Day is an international awareness day that has been held on October 11 every year since 1988.

Ahead of this years Coming Out Day, BeLonG To Youth Services shared that “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 LGBTQ+ youth presenting with issues relating to coming out (58%), being transgender (18%), and mental health challenges (14%).

Earlier this week, BeLonG To announced they have received numerous awards from the Charity Excellence Awards run by Charity Institute Ireland for their work with young LGBTQ+ people. Speaking about the awards, they said: “We are thrilled to receive recognition and the Big Impact Award for our work in schools and our Stand Up Awareness Week Campaign, and also receive the Communications Campaign for the Year for our 2019 #ComeIn Campaign. Our amazing work were recognised for their work and dedicated to the organisation receiving the Board of the Year Award.”

Irish research shows that the time between when a young person realises that they are LGBTQ+ (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-LGBTQ+ peers, LGBTQ+ 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 depression.

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 Guide for Parents of LGBTQ+ Youth available from www.belongto.org


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