Areas of Need
However, it should be made clear that the areas covered here are not exhaustive of LGB&T needs: they are more presented as case study areas. LGB&T needs clearly relate to all aspects of life and all areas of service provision.
A fundamental barrier to breaking the cycle is that individual organisations do not have the capacity to gather evidence or be influential without collaboration and support.
This section of the strategy contains information on specific areas and is meant to provide those with an influence over any of these areas with practical recommendations for positive change. Legislation has been included in this section. However, it is accepted that this is cross-cutting and applies to all areas of need.
All of the areas of need should be considered collectively as well as individually.
Organisations should not focus entirely on the area(s) of need which apply specifically to their area of work. Instead they should consider how all areas of need could impact on their service delivery.
It is recognised that there are other areas of need within LGB&T communities across the North West region, for example disability and race.
These groups are often the most underrepresented and this was recognised through the strategy consultation.
This strategy is intended to be a starting point to help develop the capacity of these groups and end multi-level discrimination.
The areas focused on in this section are as follows:
- Hate crime and harassment
- Young people, including school bullying
- Housing and homelessness
- Workplace discrimination and bullying
- Healthcare provision
Area of Need 1 - Hate crime
“Personal safety has to be the absolute priority” “When I was at the Hate Crime Conference... one of your [police] colleagues… said ‘I know there is a lot of race hate, homophobic hate. Race hate is there, with the courts – homophobic hate crime is down here. People are not reporting it – why?’”
“I think this definitely needs to be a very top priority”
Hate crime was considered a priority by participants throughout the consultation.
Specific aspects were raised:
- Lack of trust in the police as a reason not to report
- The impact of the fear of hate crime on LGB&T people
- That reporting a crime as a “hate crime” often involves a voluntary “outing” of the LGB or T status of the person that they may not want
- That low level hate crime was “coped with” – but had impact in changing LGB&T people’s self esteem and behaviour
- There is a lack of media attention or campaigns challenging hate crime, demonstrating a lack of priority given to it
- That transphobic and homophobic are the lowest priorities within hate crime
A high profile zero tolerance campaign is required – all hate crime, including against LGB&T people, needs to be seen as unacceptable.
To improve reporting by and support for victims, partnership working is needed between the police, public services and voluntary and community groups.
Biphobic and transphobic hate crime should be separately monitored to homophobic hate crime.
(from Homophobic Hate Crime, Stonewall 2008, N=1,721)
- 1 in 5 gay men and lesbians have experienced a homophobic hate crime or incident in the last 3 years
- 3 in 4 did not report it to the police
- 8% of all Black and minority ethnic lesbian and gay people have experienced a physical assault as a homophobic hate crime, compared with 4% of all lesbian and gay people
- 1 in 8 homophobic hate incidents included unwanted sexual contact
- Only 1% of crimes or incidents resulted in a conviction
(from Engendered Penalties, Press for Change, 2007, N=872)
- 72% of trans people have experienced some kind of harassment in a public place
- 21% of trans people reported not going out because of previous harassment in public
(from GALOP 2001, of 145 Black and minority ethnic LGB people)
- 68% had experienced homophobic abuse
- 10% had experienced homophobic violence
(from National Advisory Group, 2001, N=2,656)
- 2 in 3 of LGB people had experienced at least one homophobic incident
- Only 18% had reported it to the police
- Over 70% had a fear of reporting a homophobic incident to the police (compared with 25% for other incidents) – biggest fears were around “a homophobic reaction from the police” and “the police not taking the incident seriously”
(from Policing Manchester’s LGB Community, LGF)
- Just over 2 in 5 LGB individuals did not feel confident or were unsure if they felt confident in reporting hate crime/ incidents to the police
- More than 2 in 5 LGB individuals felt that levels of hate crime had remained the same between 2005 and 2008
“That is something that LGB&T people tend to live with – the fear of hate crimes – never mind the actual crime actually happening… and also in terms of kind of harassment and abuse, to a certain extent, if you do something that is an overt, out thing, you almost expect to get that kind of backlash… It is something that we almost expect and that is so wrong, but it kind of comes with the territory”
Area of Need 2 - Young people
“A lot of kids are scared”
“Not all the legislation is there, because in schools, there are only guidelines, there is no ‘you’ve got to teach about sexual orientation in the curriculum’… and bullying…any event of racial bullying has to be reported, but for homophobic bullying... that happens in school every day but no young person would go to the police to report a hate crime and they wouldn’t even go to their teachers and say ‘someone’s been bullying me’”
“The bullying is from children, from teachers, from everybody”
“It needs to be that each different area has the resources to develop their own model within their own schools”
Education and exclusion
Concern about the physical and emotional safety of young LGB&T people was a major issue for all the consultation groups. All groups cited bullying in school as a very important issue for LGB&T people. This includes bullying by staff as well as by other students, and bullying of the children of LGB&T people and the schools reaction to the parents involved.
- 82% of teachers were aware of homophobic bullying happening (Warwick and Douglas, 2001, in Ireland)
- 59% of LGBQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual and questioning) youth have been physically assaulted (Warwick and Douglas, 2001)
- 599% of schools have an anti-bullying policy – just 6% have any anti-bullying that deal with LGB&T issues (Playing It Safe, THT and Stonewall, 1999)
- 82% of LGB people experience name calling at school (Rivers 2001)
- Over 70% of (female to male) trans men and 55% of (male to female) trans women report having been bullied by other children [whilst they were at school] (Engendered Penalties, 2007)
- 28% of (female to male) trans men and 21% of (male to female) trans women report being bullied by teachers (Engendered Penalties, 2007)
(from Exceeding Expectations research, Lesbian and Gay Foundation, 2007)
- 2 in 3 young people thought that training for teachers around sexual orientation issues and homophobia would be a good idea
- The majority of young people thought that bullying would effect young LGB people in a number of ways, including confidence (74%); self-esteem (64%), loneliness (52%), depression (68%), struggling with studies (41%) and struggling to make friends (74%).
(from The School Report, Stonewall, 2007, N=1,145):
- 98% of gay pupils hear “you’re so gay” or “that’s so gay” used in a derogatory way in school
- 65% of gay pupils experience homophobic bullying in school – 75% in faith schools
- 30% report that adults have been perpetrators of homophobic incidents within school
- 62% of the time when homophobic incidents were reported to staff, nothing was done
Further concerns were raised about the effect of heterosexism within the curriculum and wider school environment.
Key facts - Educational attainment and bullying
- LGB pupils are more likely to leave school at 16, despite achieving (on average) 6 GCSEs at Grade C (Rivers, 2000)
- Bullying affects LGB&T pupils’ plans for education (KIDSCAPE,1998)
- 72% of LGB adults reported regular absenteeism from school to escape harassment, 50% had contemplated suicide – 40% had made at least one suicide attempt (Rivers, 2000)
- Of those bullied at school due to their sexual orientation, 17% exhibited post traumatic stress disorder symptoms (Rivers, 2004)
Many voluntary and community groups had already put in place schemes to address these issues – although two problems repeatedly arose:
- this work is underfunded or not funded
- there is an inability to gain acceptance for work around biphobic, transphobic and/or homophobic bullying – many schemes have used the tactic of “piggybacking” this onto a wider bullying scheme to gain acceptance and access
There was also a hope that adding equality and diversity to mainstream education curriculum could change the attitude and behaviour of future generations.
Wider young people issues
Of course, young people are not only affected by school experiences, but wider social and personal issues. It is important to utilise existing government policy to support the need to ensure that every LGB&T child is supported and encouraged through equality of access and outcome across youth groups and services as well as within schools.
The Every Child Matters guidance supports positive outcomes for all children. Statutory and other organisations that work with children in all capacities need to take responsibility to ensure that all children are supported, especially in environments that are traditionally heteronormative.
Action against biphobic, transphobic and homophobic bullying within schools is urgently needed to ensure that young people are safe. This has to be delivered with knowledgeable teams and not solely depend on the teachers and staff, who may also be the perpetrators of the bullying.
School curriculums must be developed that represent all people – within a framework of equality.
All organisations involved in delivering services to young people need to ensure that services are accessible and safe for all young people. This should be a coordinated approach which includes experts from education, Children and Young People’s Services, LGB&T experts and other key stakeholders.
Area of Need 3: Housing and homelessness
Housing was cited in the consultation as a major issue for young LGB&T people. Homelessness, including living in insecure or unsafe housing, is a frequent consequence of rejection for these young people. It was clear that young LGB&T people do not receive adequate and safe housing from mainstream housing providers.
It was not, however, just young people that are seen as affected by this. There is a strong perception that LGB&T lives can be restricted so that they are clustered, living somewhere that is perceived as safe. Avoiding hassle and hate crime is seen as leading people to restrict their choices in housing – it was also cited by a housing worker as an effect of housing policies by providers.
“I do not fight to live in the lesbian community; I fight to live in the whole world”
“In service delivery [in housing] I want them to abide by the new regulations and promote them… in the provision of goods and services for anybody… It might be included, but is it happening?”
Biphobic, transphobic and homophobic harassment and hate crime, both around the home and within the family, strongly influence housing need and choices by individuals and policies by organisations.
- 22% of trans people live in private rented accommodation – compared with a national average of 13%. This is the least secure accommodation, offering the least protection against harassment (Engendered Penalties, 2007)
- Homelessness agency workers in London estimated that 26% of young street homeless identified as LGB. (Dunne et al, 2002)
- US surveys of homeless youths find similar rates of those who identified as LGB: 22% of those aged 13-21 in Seattle (Cochran et al, 2002) and 26% of those aged 13-20 in Oregon (Noell and Ochs 2001)
- Smaller scale UK surveys of homeless youth find similar disproportionate rates – around 20% of the homeless population (eg: Cull et al, 2006)
- Evidence for trans people is more restricted, although some suggest that they may be at an even higher risk of homelessness (eg: Fenton et al, 2001 – Northern Ireland)
Research commisioned by the Albert Kennedy Trust in 2008 (Cowan and Nastari) identified that, of 12 mainstream housing providers, the majority did refer to sexual orientation and gender identity within documents such as equal opportunities policy, harassment, bullying and discrimination policy, domestic violence policy and anti-social behaviour policy. LGB&T people are now legally protected from discrimination under legislation and more consistent approaches to policy and procedures will help to be compliant with the law. However, the research identified a missed opportunity by housing providers in consulting with LGB&T communities to identify specific needs. As a result of the lack of evidence of need, only two of the organisations delivered LGB&T specific services.
Safe housing options are needed for all LGB&T people – including emergency accommodation.
Mainstream services need to ensure that their policies take due account of the violence and harassment that LGB&T people can encounter within the family and in their homes. This is of particular importance in policies that establish housing need.
Until mainstream provision is truly equitable, specialist LGB&T services need statutory support and funding.
Area of Need 4: Workplace
Protection from workplace bullying and harassment, and workplace discrimination, was of concern to all the groups. The trans consultation group reported some very strong feelings around specific issues.
Direct discrimination was reported in recruitment by the trans consultation group.
“All of my qualifications are in my previous name and so that’s when applications fall down. It’s a way of outing people. I get to the stage of showing them my qualifications and then it falls down and it is ‘We will be in touch’, ‘Thank you for your application’. You know when they say ‘We’ll be in touch’ and it happens time after time after time”
Throughout the trans consultation, transitioning was considered to be a particular time of risk for employees.
“It’s just not handled properly by employers … they just freak out”
“They were bullied and harassed, not supported by their employer [the NHS] and went to tribunal”
”Transitioning is the time that you need the support – not having your job taken away”
This often resulted in a significant negative financial impact for individuals.
“Trans people having higher than average qualification… but yet the earnings just don’t match them at all – below the national average”
LGB people also identified some key issues around discrimination in the workplace:
“And I think that is why you get so few people, so few key figures who actually come out as strong figureheads… in organisations etc. So that you can say ‘They’ve come out and actually I will, and I feel strong enough and I feel confident enough to, that I am not going to get harassed and I am not going to get abuse and I’m not going to get hate crime in the workplace’”
“My flatmate is currently doing very well for himself at work – he’s got a fantastic wage and he’s been identified as future management potential. However, he often comes back feeling low. He’s not out, and believes that if he were to declare his sexuality, his promotion prospects would be instantly blighted. He basically spends half his waking day pretending to be someone he’s not, and he daren’t raise the issue of the homophobic culture with his manager for fear of reprisal. I can’t help but wonder how many other LGB people are succeeding in their jobs, but at the price of hiding their sexuality”
The LGF commenced a campaign in late 2008 to identify homophobic incidents that people had experienced. In October 2008, of 123 people who reported being the victim of homophobia (no trans people were identified as taking part in this campaign), 34% stated that this had occurred in the workplace. However, 68% of all people who stated they had been a victim of homophobia in the workplace did not report it. This highlights that people are still not comfortable drawing attention to such activity at work. Those involved stated reasons for not reporting, including: ‘it would not be taken seriously’, they did not know ‘who to report it to’ and ‘fear of reprisal and potential negative impact on promotion’.
- 10% of trans people report being verbally abused and 6% physically assaulted in the workplace and 1 in 4 trans people feel obliged to change jobs (Engendered Penalties, 2007)
- Gay men earn 6% less and are 3% less likely to be employed than their heterosexual counterparts (Arabsheibani, Marin and Wadsworth, 2006)
- 1 in 3 lesbian and gay people have experienced discrimination in the workplace due to their sexual orientation (Millivres Prowler press release, 2007)
- 1 in 5 lesbian and gay people have experienced bullying from a colleague because of their sexual orientation (Stonewall, Serves you Right , 2007)
All employers must ensure that workplaces are safe and free from harassment for all employees. This should include a proactive approach to equality for LGB&T people.
All employers should publicly display a statement within the workplace that discrimination on any grounds, including sexual orientation, is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in the workplace.
Area of Need 5: Healthcare provision
Both the trans and the LGB consultation groups highlighted the issue of equal access to healthcare. There are strong concerns that:
- LGB&T people are not receiving adequate healthcare. Both inaccessible services and a lack of engagement by LGB&T people borne of an expectation of discrimination are cited as reasons
- That specific healthcare needs are not being addressed – bar HIV in some locations
Lesbian and bisexual women (Prescription for Change, Stonewall 2008)
- Half of lesbian and bisexual women have had a negative experience in the health sector in the last year
- Half are not out to their GP
- 1 in 10 say the healthcare worker ignored them when they come out and just 3 in 10 say that the healthcare workers did not make inappropriate comments
- Only 1 in 10 felt their partner was welcome during consultations
- 15% of those over 25 have never had a cervical smear – over twice the rate for women in general
Gay and bisexual men (Mental Health and Social Wellbeing of Gay Men, Lesbians and Bisexuals in England and Wales, 2003)
- 1 in 3 out gay men experience negative or mixed reactions from mental health professionals
- 1 in 4 out bisexual men experience negative or mixed reactions from mental health professionals
Trans people (Transgender Legal Study: Legal Survey and Focus on the Transgender Experience of Healthcare, 2008)
- Around 20% of trans people in Europe feel that their trans status reduces their accessing of healthcare – because they expect prejudicial responses
- Between 18% and 31% of trans people feel that being trans adversely affects the way they are treated by healthcare professionals
- Nearly a third were refused treatment because a GP did not approve of gender reassignment
There is an emerging body of evidence of specific healthcare needs, for example problematic substance and mental health needs within lesbian and gay communities. There is also a lack of research that appropriately distinguishes between LG and B issues which can mask some specific needs. There is emerging evidence that LGB&T people are not accessing primary services and have poor health outcomes. There is little evidence that this is being addressed by healthcare providers.
The trans consultation group highlighted several issues of concern which were transspecific. Firstly, there was a fundamental issue about whether trans-specific healthcare was available. Two major concerns were around the lack of provision in the North West and the lack of timely healthcare:
“If we have to go through the mental health service to get treatment, I am sort of okay to do that, if it proceeds quite well – if we have to do that. But the speed of treatment is a real problem”
“People are going expecting to get surgery at the end, but then it doesn’t happen”
“There have been cases of people waiting two years for the real life test and then waiting five years for surgery”
“I don’t know anyone who has had any surgery done locally”
This lack of provision did not just affect gender reassignment surgery – there were frequent reports of a lack of service provision in aftercare: specifically the lack of monitoring liver tests were mentioned. It should be noted that the reports were of a denial of medical treatment.
The right to equal outcome of services has to be made real within healthcare.
Through training and enforcement, it must be made clear to all practitioners that the patient’s rights are paramount.
Trust building must be undertaken with LGB&T communities. This has to be built upon more accessible mainstream services and specific services that are responsive to need. The aim must be reducing health inequalities for all.
Area of Need 6: Legislation
“It is about meaningful implementation, full implementation of the existing laws”
“I think robust policy to back up the existing laws”
The perception for LGB&T people was that the law had moved quite rapidly in the past few years. However reservations remained:
- That the historic tardiness of the legislation, in comparison with the other equality streams, meant that LGB legislation was “last on the list”
- That there was not full equality under the law
- That changes in legislation (especially in the areas of provision of goods and services and employment) were perceived as not equating to the positive duties in other areas (specifically gender, race and disability) within the public sector, reinforcing an inequity between the strands
- Mostly it was felt that lack of knowledge about the laws and lack of willingness meant they were not being implemented – and not being enforced.
All organisations should fully implement the LGB&T legislation – indeed move beyond the legislation to equity with other equality strands (if relevant).
Implementation must be enforced – and be lobbied for.
For the trans community, legislation was seen as a very double-edged sword:
“There has been major, major confusion about that and it has made things 10 times worse” (with regard to the Gender Recognition Act)
“It is totally wrong – there has been a system in place for years that has been scuppered by the Gender Recognition Act… People asking for proof, we have no obligation to show our GRC to anyone”
Full legal equality must be achieved for all LGB&T people.
Organisations should train staff on the application of the legislation and its practical effect, combined with sexual orientation awareness training.
Organisations should review their policies on gender recognition to achieve equality of outcome and processes that respect the privacy and dignity of their service users/clients.
Measures of Success
This strategy is a very forward thinking document that provides organisations with a framework for ensuring that LGB&T people can achieve their full potential by supporting the delivery of a sustainable LGB&T sector in the North West. It has provided three strategic aims that should be incorporated into organisations’ existing strategies to ensure that LGB&T people are empowered and enabled.
By developing an action plan to implement the recommendations to meet the aims of the strategy, organisations will be working towards breaking the cycle that restricts the growth of the LGB&T sector. Through this we can develop a strong evidence base, increase the knowledge and engagement of policy and decision makers and increase the capacity of the LGB&T voluntary and community sector. As this grows, individuals and groups will feel empowered to affect change.
We will know we are being successful when people do not feel discriminated against on the grounds of sexual orientation; when people feel comfortable being ‘out’ without fear of homophobic abuse; where people feel their workplaces are fully inclusive and welcoming, regardless of their sexual orientation. And we all feel equal.