It’s a Question of Sex

In 2018 LGBT Foundation Women’s Programme launched the Sexual Wellbeing Survey for women who have sex with women (WSW).Working with the academic supervision of Professor Catherine Meads, of Anglia Ruskin University, we created a 52 question, online survey that aimed to address the lack of data in this area and give us previously unseen insights into the sexual wellbeing for women who have sex with women, including factors such as pleasure, exploration, confidence and consent.

We made a positive estimation that 300-400 people would respond. When we closed the survey over 2,000 people had responded. It was very clear that women who have sex with women wanted to talk about it.

On Thursday October 15th LGBT Foundation Women’s Programme presented the community report It’s a Question of Sex, exploring the initial findings from the Sexual Wellbeing Survey as produced by researcher Tara Poole.

Our Speakers were:

Catherine Meads is a Professor of Health at Anglia Ruskin University and senior systematic reviewer. She has been conducting research into lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) health since 1992 and has published a number of papers on this.

Annie Cunningham is the Women’s Programme Coordinator at LGBT Foundation and is the producer of this conference and author of It’s a Question of Sex, community report.

Lauren Duffy is Sexual Health Lead at LGBT Foundation and has extensive experience in the area of sexual health and testing.

Rosella Nicosia is Mental Health Lead at LGBT Foundation and is a qualified Sex and Relationship Therapist. She has extensive experience working within the community both from the Foundation and in her therapy practice.

On the Day:

2-2.30pm - Data disappearing act – Professor Catherine Meads

A question that many people ask when they complete a survey or other piece of research is: ‘what are they going to do with my data and what are they going to do with the research as a whole?’. These are important issues as, for any research, the main point of doing it is to help people. For women who have sex with women, there is an added point in that little research is published or made available to the community. This survey by the LGBT Foundation is the largest of its kind in the UK, and it is important for the community to see what a range or normal looks like from a WSW perspective. Catherine’s talk will be about how we plan to disseminate the survey findings to public, professionals and policy-makers, using a historical perspective from the last 30 years.

2.30-2.45pm - The initial findings – It’s a Question of Sex – Annie Cunningham

Annie Cunningham will present findings from the research of the statistician Tara Poole. This is a departure point for the use of this data, and it illuminates the need for open and meaningful conversation around the needs and desires of WSW.

2.45-3.15pm - Sex and Your Health – Lauren Duffy

For too long a glaring lack of information around the sexual health of WSW has left this part of our community without support and information – a situation that can have complex health implications. Lauren will be talking about the perils that accompany the continued misunderstanding of the difference between sexual behaviour and sexual orientation. Lauren will be demystifying sexual health testing for women and opening up a debate on how we inform our practice to better serve the health needs of women who have sex with women.

3.15-3.45pm- Talking of sex – Rossella Nicosia

Rossella will be ending the conference with a unique session that explores the assumptions and messages that are made about the kinds of sex that WSW are expecting and having/not having. Rossella will be talking about how limited societal representation can lead to breakdown in the ways in which we communicate the kind of sex we do or don’t want. She will be exploring the ways in which we overtly or tacitly consent to the sex we are having and, of course, talking about ways in which to enjoy the sex life you want/don’t want - with someone or solo!

We would like to take this opportunity to thank every single person who took the time to fill in the original Sexual Wellbeing Survey. This is what we have done with your data (so far).

You can download the report below and also watch a recording of the conference. If you would like to join our network and are interested in taking discussions around the subject forward, we'd be delighted to hear from you. Please get in touch: [email protected]