June is Pride month dedicated to celebrating the LGBTQ+ communities all around the world.
Pride is usually celebrated with lots of parades and marches but with social distancing still in place, things will be a little different this year.
LGBT pride month is a celebration of the LGBT community and a recognition of what has been achieved, and what is yet to be achieved when it comes to LGBT human rights. Pride month tradition started in the 1970’s, when cities began hosting events to commemorate the Stonewall Riots in the United States. 2019 was the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall riots.
So why is pride month important to us in the UK?
Doesn’t the LGBT community have equal marriage? Aren’t LGBT people protected from discrimination under the Equality Act of 2010? Yes to both of these, however in the UK, LGBT people, of all ages, still face discrimination everyday.
Stonewall, the LGBT charity, have published several LGBT in Britain reports that highlight that in the workplace, education and society LGBT people still face discrimination and hate crimes. Their reports point out that, ‘one in five (21%) LGBT people have experienced a hate crime or incident due to their sexual orientation and or gender identity in the last 12 months’ 
There is progress however, in March 2019 the government approved that LGBT education lessons could be taught in Schools.
More and more young people are feeling more confident to come out to their friends and family, I, myself, a 42 year old gay man didn’t actually come out until I was 23. This was down to a number of factors including, the fact, that Section 28 was in situ while I was at school, college and university, also that I had no visible LGBT role models in my life.
So why are young people feeling more confident to ‘come out’? According to the ONS 4.1% of 16 to 24 years olds identified themselves as bisexual, gay or lesbian in 2016 this is up from 2.8% in 2014. Could this be down to the education system being more open about sexual orientation and gender identity? Or is it down to large numbers of visible role models in the media and society? It could be a number of factors. However, it is important, as a parent, to be supportive. According to stonewall, ‘Just two in five LGBT young people (40%) have an adult at home they can talk to about being LGBT’. We all know parents want to protect their child and would never want them to be bullied and harmed and a child coming out instantly rings alarm bells because of the bullying and hate crime that exists against LGBT people. But you also don’t want to be your child’s first bully, the fact they could be scared to talk about how they feel and discriminative language could be being used within the living environment.
I was extremely touched by an article written by a mother of a trans boy, in the Guardian, it speaks about how the mother’s worry of bullying and exclusion was at the forefront of her mind, but the realisation that his distress would be ‘…even worse than being abused in the street’.
Mental health is a big factor that affects large numbers of young LGBT people. According to Stonewall ‘More than four in five trans young people (84%) have self-harmed. For lesbian, gay and bi young people who aren’t trans, three in five (61%) have self-harmed’. Also young LGBT people who have attempted to take their own life attracts unsettling statistics, 45% for young trans people and 22% for young LGB individuals.
So, what can parents of LGBT children do to support them?
Educate yourself, there are hundreds of online articles and support organisations out there that can give great advice and also opportunities to meet up with other parents of LGBT children Organisations, such as, Mermaids who support young people, who are gender diverse and their families.
Encourage your child’s school to reach out to organisations that can support and educate both students and teachers on issues faced by young LGBT people. Organisations such as Diversity Role Models work with schools and education establishments ‘to prevent homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools’ 
Most of all, it’s important to listen to your child and engage; an LGBT child still requires the same level of care and respect that a non-LGBT child does.
Our thanks to Marc McKenna-Coles.
Marc is currently working for Shopify and was previously Global Diversity & Inclusion Manager for Lloyd’s where he also held roles within Retail and Business & Commercial banking. Marc’s D&I work at RBS, included improving LGBT+ inclusion for both customer and colleague, including, a policy and guidance to support Trans and Non-binary colleagues and improving how customers can update their gender marker on their banking profile. Outside of work Marc is a Role model for Diversity Role models. He is married and is the proud husband of Hamish.
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