Ahead of Scotland’s biggest LGBT Pride celebration in Glasgow this weekend, young people with concerns about sexual orientation or gender identity are being reminded there is always someone there to talk to.
ChildLine, run by NSPCC Scotland, took over 5,300 calls from children and young people from across the UK last year concerned about their sexual orientation and gender identity.
Its call centre bases in Aberdeen and Glasgow handled one in five of these contacts, with local volunteers delivering 953 counselling sessions.
Many of the young people who contacted ChildLine were incredibly worried and stressed about coming out to loved ones about their sexual orientation or gender activity. One of the greatest causes of anxiety was parental reaction with many not knowing what to do or how to start the conversation.
In over a third of cases (36%), the ChildLine volunteer they spoke to on the phone or online was the first person they had told about coming out. Often they struggled to find the words to tell their parents and friends for fear of disappointment or anger, with many scared of being disowned.
Speaking before tomorrow’s event, Susan Dobson, NSPCC Scotland’s ChildLine service manager, said: “If a young person is concerned about their sexual or gender identity or anxious about coming out, ChildLine volunteers in Aberdeen and Glasgow are trained and ready to work with them to help support them on their journey. ChildLine is there to listen not to judge, and what’s said stays between you and ChildLine.
ChildLine volunteers in Aberdeen and Glasgow are trained and ready to work with young people to help support them on their journey
“Coming out can be a hugely emotional time, and if the young person faces negative reactions it can be extremely painful, particularly if the negative reaction is from somebody they care for.
“ChildLine can support you to be yourself. We can help you explore how you might tell friends and family, help you find the words to explain and can offer a safe place to rehearse what you want to say.”
Fergus McMillan, chief executive of LGBT Youth Scotland, said: “One of the most important messages we can send to young people who are in the process of coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, or questioning their gender identity or sexual orientation, is that they are not alone. That’s why getting in touch with LGBT Youth Scotland or attending a youth group nearby and calls to ChildLine are so important during that time.
“You’re not alone and there are trained and supportive people available to help make the coming out process easier to cope with, and your sexual orientation and gender identity something to be proud of and not hidden away.”