Majority of young people are pro-trans and would support a friend coming out, research finds

by Just Like Us
November 2021

Two school pupils chat outside their school

Almost all young people (84%) say they would support a friend if they came out as transgender and more than half say they already have a friend who is trans (57%), according independent research released by Just Like Us on Trans Day of Visibility.

The majority of secondary school pupils are supportive of trans people and over half (54%) say they know someone who is trans, independent research by Just Like Us, the LGBT+ young people’s charity, has found.

Young people also consider themselves to be more supportive of trans people than their teachers. 84% of secondary school pupils say they would be supportive ‘if a close friend came out as transgender’ but only 76% think that their teachers would be supportive of a pupil coming out as transgender at their school.

96% of LGBT+ young people say they would support a friend if they came out as trans, compared to 76% of non-LGBT+ young people.

The independent research commissioned by Just Like Us, the LGBT+ young people’s charity, surveyed 2,934 secondary school pupils (including 1,140 LGBT+ young people) in Years 7-13 (ages 11 to 18) across 375 schools and colleges in December 2020 and January 2021.

The data forms part of a larger report, Growing Up LGBT+, into inclusive education and the experiences of LGBT+ young people published by Just Like Us.

Secondary school pupils surveyed explained why they are supportive

One young lesbian in Year 13 in the East Midlands said: “It’s not my business how they identify, and I’ve seen previous friends dealing with transphobia and now want to support others so the same thing doesn’t happen as much.”

Another Year 13 pupil from the East Midlands, who is not LGBT+, said: “Because I don’t think it really makes a difference they’re still the same as they were before just more honest.”

A Year 12 pupil from the East Midlands, who is not LGBT+, wrote: “It’s who they are. I find it difficult to understand why people wouldn’t be supportive of a friend, for whatever is happening in their life, if you’re friends with someone supporting them is what a GOOD friend does.”

One straight pupil in Year 11 at a school in the North East said: “Being transgender isn’t really a choice. If we are close friends then we are close friends for a reason and them being trans wouldn’t change that. It would have no negative impact on my life so there is no reason for me to not be as supportive as possible and make them feel comfortable.”

Another Year 12 pupil in the North West said: “I would fully support them because they are embracing how they feel and who they are which is something to be celebrated. I think it’s very important to support everyone and encourage them to be themselves and not to feel scared that they won’t be accepted.”

Chief Executive of charity Just Like Us, Dominic Arnall, has called for schools to ensure trans young people are as welcomed at school as they are by their peers.

“We are really glad that, with this independent research, we are able to shine a light on the opinions of young people themselves and how supportive they are of their trans peers” says Dominic Arnall, Chief Executive of Just Like Us.

“Secondary school age young people are clearly incredibly supportive of trans people and would have no problem with a friend coming out as trans.

“We hope that this is positive motivation for parents, schools and the media at large to embrace trans and all LGBT+ young people and accept them for who they are.”

“The last few years have shown an increase in tensions and hostility towards trans people – particularly trans young people. This research shows that thankfully, for the most part, the majority of young people are supportive of their trans peers.

Show support for trans pupils at your school

Just Like Us, the LGBT+ young people’s charity, runs School Diversity Week every year.

School Diversity Week is the UK-wide celebration of LGBT+ equality in primary schools, secondary schools and colleges.