Exploring LGBT+ Identities with Young People
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Here we have put together some top tips for exploring LGBT+ identities with young people.
- When exploring LGBT+ identities with a young person you might introduce a lot of new language. By talking about sexuality and gender identity separately you help prevent any confusion around which words describe what, and the difference between sexuality and gender identity. Ask young people what they understand different words for LGBT+ identities mean.
- You could introduce LGB+ identities whilst exploring different family structures with young people in the lower years of primary school. Some young people of that age may only be aware of their own family structure and so same-gender relationships can be introduced when you share with young people that some families have one mum, some families have step-parents, some families have two dads, etc.
- You can begin to introduce T+ identities as you explore gender expectations of “boys” and “girls”. The book Alien Nation is aimed at young people in Year 3 and above and will support you in exploring these expectations, as well as exploring gender identity and language such as trans, cis and non-binary.
- Do not feel you have to sit down with the young people in your care and have a serious conversation about LGBT+ identities; you can introduce the different identities that make up our community gradually with books, TV shows, films and lessons that positively explore LGBT+ identities using age-appropriate language.
- Via social media, the news and other media outlets many young people are aware of the LGBTphobic views other people can have, the challenges LGBT+ can face, and the LGBTphobic laws and persecution in other countries. LGBT+ young people need to be shown that they can lead fantastic lives and can achieve everything they aspire to in spite of this negativity. You can do this by sharing the lives of some of the people in our LGBT+ icons section with your young people.
- It is completely usual for people to have questions as they learn something new. So, as you explore LGBT+ identities, young people in your care might have questions and the language they use might not be respectful or correct. Please use the information on this website to better your own understanding, as it may help you in feeling more comfortable and confident in answering their questions and correcting their language.
- Don’t be afraid of telling young people that you don’t know the answer and that you’ll find out, or maybe find out together! We would always encourage you to use our website and the websites of other LGBT+ organisations to find out more about the LGBT+ community as the content has come from LGBT+ people and research. Unfortunately, some sites write content from their LGBTphobic viewpoint, so do check them out yourself first.
- Everyone, at some point in their life, has explored how they feel about their gender identity and their sexuality. For some it is a short exploration as how they feel fits with how society expects them to feel, but for some it can be a long process as the way they feel doesn’t necessarily fit with how they are “expected” to feel. Creating an LGBT+ inclusive space where young LGBT+ people in your care know you respect LGBT+ identities and will care for them, no matter how they identify, will support them in this journey.
- At no point should they feel or be put under any pressure to assign any LGBT+ specific language to themselves. However, it is important to share this language with them so they know that, if they may be LGBT+, there is a community of people who feel like they do and they are not alone.