As Chief Exec of Just Like Us, the LGBT+ young people's charity, I’m thrilled that we have launched #YoungerMe – a new campaign highlighting the need for inclusive education.
#YoungerMe spent far too long worrying that I was the only person in the world that felt the way I did.
It is a feeling of loneliness that I would not wish on anyone. I can't imagine how thrilled I would have been to have Just Like Us visit my school and tell me that who I was wasn't something to be ashamed of.
Sometimes, just knowing you aren't on your own is enough.
This is #YoungerMe:
At Just Like Us, we work with so many incredible educators across England and Wales and we regularly hear how our work together improves pupils’ wellbeing, safety and happiness. Our online #YoungerMe campaign is a wonderful opportunity to highlight just how important their work with us is in changing young LGBT+ pupil’s lives.
This year has been transformational – we’ve moved our school talks, Ambassador Programme for 18 to 25 year olds, and our Pride Groups programme all online so that we can continue our mission during these challenging times. During the pandemic, we also moved School Diversity Week online, hosting 25 lessons from LGBT+ experts, our masterclasses were watched over 10,000 times within the first week, and schools representing 1.97 million young people took part.
While Covid-19 has presented new challenges for us and educators, it’s been an incredibly tough time for LGBT+ young people themselves.
We know that lockdown restrictions have left young people more isolated and cut off from their support networks, and Christmas is likely to intensify this for them. 16 to 29-year-olds, for example, are twice as likely as the over-70s to be experiencing loneliness in the pandemic. Being LGBT+ means young people are even less likely to be able to access the support networks they need.
Our #YoungerMe campaign will open up the conversation about the realities of growing up LGBT+ but also how we can make tangible changes to improve the lives of LGBT+ young people through inclusive education and our Ambassador Programme.
For anyone not familiar, our ambassadors are LGBT+ young people who volunteer with us to go into schools and speak about their experiences. Just Like Us provides them with training, mentoring and the programme opens them up to a whole community of others like them that, many ambassadors tell us, they’ve never had access to before.
We hope you’ll join us this December by taking part in our #YoungerMe campaign.
If you’d like to get involved, here’s what to do: