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One in four young gay people assaulted

Initial findings of the widest research into gay people in England has found more than half self-harm
One in four young gay people are assaulted, 47% have received threats, and more than half have self-harmed.
Photo by Scott nunn.

One in four young gay people have been assaulted in England, and more than half have self-harmed.

The new research, which also found nearly half (47%) have received threats or intimidation as a result of being gay.

As reported by The Independent On Sunday, the figures come from Youth Chances, the biggest social research project into young LGBT people in England.

Dan Baker, Youth Chances project manager, said despite it being 2012, it is still a hard environment to grow up gay.

‘Self-harm jumped out as a really alarming statistic,’ he said. ‘Self-harm is a way of people expressing an internal issue that they might not be able to express. Maybe Britain is not as tolerant as we thought.’

The statistics for self-arm among gay people are significantly higher than the national average of one in 12 young people. Two thirds of women said they had hurt themselves on purpose, compared to 37% of men.

Transgender young adults were the most vulnerable, with four out of five saying they had deliberately harmed themselves.

Youth Chances believes its research shows public attitudes have yet to catch up with the legal system.

Baker said: ‘There’s a lot of great equality now, such as allowing gay couples to adopt and have civil partnerships.

‘But, despite the progress, there seems to be lots of cases of harassment and even assault.

‘If people are being taunted or attacked because of who they are, it shows public opinion behavior hasn’t caught up with legislation.’

Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell told the British paper: ‘These statistics are really shocking; they ought to be a wake-up call to every parent, teacher and community leader. As a society, we are still failing LGBT kids on a massive scale.

‘Even today, around half of schools have no anti-bullying program specifically addressing homophobia. Kids are not born bigoted, they become bigoted.

‘All the evidence suggests that education can help combat bigotry and promote understanding and acceptance.’

The three-year project will eventually survey 15,000 young adults. The initial findings are based on the responses of the first 3,500.

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