Last year saw so many changes to our everyday lives, many of which severely impacted LGBT+ young people. From being cut off from their usual support networks to switching to home learning, young people were severely impacted and 16 to 24 year olds were three times more likely to regularly be feeling lonely than over 65s.
This year, our challenge is to continue improving the lives of LGBT+ young people through continued lockdowns and disruption. We must not forget how vital inclusive education is for LGBT+ young people who may be stuck at home in unsupportive environments and isolated from their usual support systems.
Today marks five years since Just Like Us registered as a charity.
2021 is also the year Just Like Us turns five. In the last five years, we’ve worked with over 2,350 schools and colleges that have taken part in School Diversity Week, signed up to our Pride Groups programme and had a school talk from Just Like Us.
We’ve also trained young LGBT+ ambassadors across England, Wales and Scotland to speak in schools, and they’ve had mentoring and support from our amazing network of volunteers. They’ve also been at the forefront of our campaigns and championed inclusive education for GAY TIMES and AZ Magazine.
Looking ahead to the next five years, Just Like Us hopes expand our programmes to reach more and more schools – both primary and secondary – that have never engaged in this type of work before, to ensure we improve the lives of LGBT+ young people no matter where they attend school.
Currently, three in four LGBT+ young people face anti-LGBT+ bullying (Prescient for Just Like Us, 2019). At Just Like Us, we not only want to reduce this number but also ensure that every young person knows that being LGBT+ is something to be celebrated.
There's an assumption that life for LGBT+ young people has got better since the end of Section 28. While Section 28 had a disastrous impact on the lives of LGBT+ young people, there are still far too many schools keeping young people in the dark about being LGBT+.
In 2021, we hope our School Diversity Week will be the biggest celebration of LGBT+ inclusion in education yet. Last year, schools and colleges representing 1.9 pupils across the UK took part. Whether you’re celebrating virtually or in person, please sign up your school to take part, and talk to us about booking a school talk or joining our Pride Groups community.
Whether or not you are LGBT+, you have an important role to play in this. If heterosexual parents asked schools about LGBT+ inclusion before their kids started school, more schools would consider this work a priority. For both LGBT+ and non-LGBT+ people, one of the most effective things you can do is ask your school what they are doing to support LGBT+ students – and if you don’t get an answer you like, tell them to speak to Just Like Us. We’re here to help.