Young lesbians are most likely to be lonely in lockdown, research finds

by Just Like Us
November 2021

A girl, looking into the camera, stands with a Pride flag in front of her face

Young lesbians are the most likely to be lonely since the pandemic began, new research by Just Like Us has found.

Almost 9 in 10 (87%) young lesbians have felt lonely and separated from the people they’re closest to, including 6 in 10 (60%) who have felt this daily, since the pandemic began. This is compared to 46% of gay boys, 54% of young bisexual people and 52% of young transgender people who have felt lonely and separated on a daily basis.

The independent research of 2,934 secondary school pupils (1,140 of whom were LGBT+) by Just Like Us, the charity for LGBT+ young people, found that 55% of LGBT+ 11 to 18 year olds are worried about their mental health on a daily basis, compared to just 26% of their non-LGBT+ peers.

LGBT+ young people are also more than twice as likely to worry about their mental health on a daily basis during the pandemic than their non-LGBT+ peers.

The research found that the majority of secondary school pupils have had little to zero positive messaging about being LGBT+ in the last year. A third of students say they have only had positive messaging one or twice in the last 12 months (30%) and one in five (18%) have received no positive messaging at school about being LGBT+ at all.

Four in five (78%) young lesbians say their mental health has got worse through lockdown, compared to 71% of gay boys, 74% of bisexual young people, 70% of transgender young people, and half of (49%) non-LGBT+ young people.

Just Like Us’ research found that lesbians face significant and disproportionate challenges.

The research revealed that young lesbians are worrying significantly more about their mental health than gay boys. Six in ten (61%) of young lesbians worry about their mental health on a daily basis, compared to four in 10 (40%) of gay boys.

Bisexual (60%) and transgender (65%) young people are also significantly more likely to be worrying about the state of their mental health on a daily basis.

Dominic Arnall, Chief Executive of Just Like Us, says: “We hope that this research will begin to shed light on the experiences of young lesbians, who are sadly the most likely group within the LGBT+ community to report feeling lonely and separated from the people they are closest to on a daily basis since the pandemic began.

“Our research has found that young people who are also eligible for free school meals, Black and/or transgender are also more likely to be struggling with mental health right now.

“The results show the importance of looking at the experiences of different identities within the LGBT+ umbrella separately, ensuring that we understand the different people within the acronym and how their identities might affect their experiences.

“At Just Like Us we know just how important it is that all LGBT+ young people hear from their schools and families that it is OK to be LGBT+.

“It’s important the pressures of this time are not passed on to schools who are already overburdened with work. At Just Like Us our role to support schools in sending positive messages to LGBT+ young people during this difficult time. We have free, LGBT+ inclusive resources available for all schools, all they need to do is sign up for School Diversity Week, or get in touch and talk to us.”

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.