four easy ways to be an ally for LGBTQIA+ young people in your life

This Wear It Purple Day, headspace is sharing simple ways to be a more inclusive society that celebrates all sexualities and gender identities.

Wear It Purple Day is a national day to raise awareness about and celebrate the diversity of young people in the LGBTQIA+ community.

headspace National Clinical Advisor Rupert Saunders says headspace understands the importance of days like Wear It Purple, with 30 per cent of young people coming to headspace centres identifying as LGBTQIA+.

“Social exclusion, discrimination, and feelings of isolation increase the likelihood of young people experiencing mental ill-health – regardless of their identity,” Mr Saunders said.

“headspace research shows LGBTQIA+ young people are twice as likely as their heterosexual and cisgender peers to report high or very high levels of psychological distress.

 “We also know they are less likely reach out to family or health professionals for support when they face problems.

“That’s why it’s vital we work towards making society a place that’s respectful and welcoming to all, especially to queer young people."

Mr Saunders recommends these ways to ensure LGBTQIA+ young people feel safe and loved:

  1. Get informed. “It can be helpful to learn about the experiences of LGBTQIA+ young people and how best to openly support your young person. This shows young people that you care and want to be there for them, as well as reduces the need for them to feel like they have explain everything themselves. Be curious and not afraid to admit what you don’t know.”

  2. Open up a channel of communication. Listen to what your young person has have to say. “Ask them about their feelings and experiences without judgement and confrontation. Be patient, and show that you love, trust and respect them.”

  3. Speak up. Show your support by calling out inappropriate comments or behaviours, and challenge counterproductive narratives when possible. Advocate for the LGBTIQA+ community by starting discussions with other people, participating in events and supporting legislation..

  4. Look for signs of mental distress. If it seems as though your young person is struggling with their identity or being bullied, trust your instincts and seek help. Signs might include changes in mood, sleep patterns, appetite, or other worrisome behaviours.

“All young people are resilient and with the right support they can and do thrive,” Mr Saunders said.

“Queer young people can and should be able to take pride in their diversity and feel safe and welcomed by everyone they meet.

“headspace is always available if you or your young person need support. headspace is a welcome, safe and inclusive service that can provide counselling and other services to support the wellbeing and mental health of LGBTQIA+ young people.”

We encourage any young person, family, or friends in need of support or consultation to visit their local headspace centre. Support is also available via phone and online counselling service eheadspace seven days a week between 9am–1am (AEST). The number is 1800 650 890.

If you’re looking for someone to talk to immediately, Lifeline (13 11 14) and Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800) are available to talk 24/7