DEVELOPING MAINSTREAM
SUPPORT
FOR
LESBIAN, GAY AND BISEXUAL YOUNG PEOPLE

Lesbian Information Service
P.O. Box 8
Todmorden
Lancashire
OL14 5TZ

In a letter to Alice Mahon, MP, dated 20th March 2000, Ms Jacqui Smith, MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Education and Employment, states:

"Thank you for your letter to David Blunkett of 9 February enclosing the report from ACTION for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Youth in Calderdale.

It is helpful to have sight of reports such as the Calderdale study in order to discover what individuals are thinking and experiencing, which can inform the development of effective and appropriate policy.

My Department is in the process of consulting on the shape and content of new sex and relationships education (SRE) guidance. Sex and relationships education should not be delivered in isolation. It should be firmly rooted in the new framework for Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE), issued in November.

The guidance will therefore set sex and relationships education within a broader base of self-esteem, respect and responsibility, and will give young people a clear understanding of the arguments for delaying sexual activity. It will ensure that teachers are in a position to offer information and support to all young people as they develop into adults and to address incidents of homophobic bullying. Pupils have a right to develop without being subject to any physical or verbal abuse about sexual orientation. I hope that this revised guidance will enable schools to avoid experiences of bullying and isolation described in the Calderdale report. The objective is to help young people learn to respect themselves and others and by so doing move from adolescence into adulthood with confidence."

INTRODUCTION

This Booklet has been produced by Lesbian Information Service in collaboration with Calderdale Community Education Service; Calderdale Health Promotion; Calderdale Youth in Partnership Scheme; Dashline; GALYIC (Gay and Lesbian Youth in Calderdale); MSM Project; Sexual Health Services; West Yorkshire Police.

The ACTION Report(1) identified the needs of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people in Calderdale and gaps in service provision, in particular a lack of information. This publication has been produced as a direct result of these findings.

The aim is to produce accessible information about the specific issues facing lesbian, gay and bisexual young people so that workers can provide appropriate support.

The Booklet is an introduction to the needs of this group and further information, a literature review of relevant research and extensive references are available in the ACTION Report.

The Booklet covers four areas:

Main Issues Facing Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Young People, includes multi-oppression; effects of homophobia* on lesbian, gay and bisexual young people; why some lesbian, gay and bisexual people are vulnerable, identifying those who are most vulnerable and responses from support agencies.

Homophobia: The recognised or unrecognised fear or hatred of homosexuals or homosexuality that is present in individuals (heterosexuals and homosexuals); everyone is taught to be homophobic.

Heterosexism: Discrimination against homosexuals based on the belief that heterosexuality is superior to homosexuality. All of our institutions are heterosexist.

Once we are aware that we have internalised homophobic beliefs we can begin to challenge them; similarly, once we acknowledge that our institutions are heterosexist we can begin to change them.

Beliefs and Misinformation Which Stops Support For Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Young People, discusses percentage of the population who are gay; homosexuality as a sin; homosexuality as a sickness; the law; origins of sexual orientation; identity development; effects of denial; coming out; fear and lack of knowledge; need for support.

Providing Help Checklist
, provides information on how you can support these young people and a Resources section provides a list of relevant agencies, useful telephone numbers and addresses, further reading.

The Booklet will be distributed to all those in Calderdale who work with young people, e.g. youth workers, teachers, school nurses, doctors, social workers, housing workers, voluntary agency staff, etc.

It is hoped that you will read the Booklet and discuss its contents with your colleagues. Feed back on its usefulness is welcome. Please send your comments or any enquiries for further information to: Lesbian Information Service, P.O. Box 8, Todmorden, Lancashire, OL14 5TZ. Thank you.
This Booklet was originally produced with financial support from Calderdale MBC, Calderdale & Kirklees Health Authority (Joint Finance - Small Grants) and West Yorkshire Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Policing Initiative.

Thanks to: Liz North for proof-reading; Pauline Nash for encouraging me to submit it to national publishers; Russell House Publishing; the original funders; members of the Inter-Agency Group (IAG) for comments, in particular Angela Hodgson; GALYIC and the young lesbian, gay and bisexual people who took part in the research project.

© Lesbian Information Service June 2000


MAIN ISSUES FACING LESBIAN, GAY AND BISEXUAL YOUNG PEOPLE IN CALDERDALE

Multi-Oppression

We live in a society which conditions people to believe that women are inferior to men, black people are inferior to white people, minority ethnic people are inferior to English people, disabled people are inferior to non-disabled people, poor/working class people are inferior to rich/middle class people and homosexuals are inferior to heterosexuals.

Adolescents are more vulnerable to these messages. Adolescence is a time when the 'norm' is of utmost importance and when peer pressure is at its greatest. Belonging to an oppressed group can be very painful, especially for adolescents who do not have the support of their families. Whilst all young people depend on their families for economic and emotional support, unlike others, young lesbian, gay and bisexual people rarely receive emotional support and acceptance with regard to their sexual orientation.


They have never threatened to throw me out but my mother did make a suggestion like that if I wanted to live like that I'd have to have a flat on my own. I can't have any publicity or anything at the house. Really, I want to move out from that. They are more suspicious when I go out. I have to tell them where I am going. Because most of the time I tell them a lie, they wonder about the people I am with and suspect them of being gay. I know my mother does because she asks me if one of my friends is. I have to live like a double life as I have to lie about where I am going. (M)

I think it is more difficult being young and lesbian because you are so insecure when you are young. Where to go? Who to see? You think you are the only one at the time; it did for me. It made me so sad and unhappy at the time. It seemed that there was no-one there, no-one to talk to. (F)



Lesbian, gay and bisexual young people are oppressed because of their sexual orientation and because of their age; young lesbians and female bisexuals are further oppressed because of their gender whilst those lesbian, gay and bisexual young people who are poor/working class or disabled or black or minority ethnic have extra layers of oppression to contend with; this makes them even more vulnerable.


I told my mother first. I said, 'I've got something to tell you.' She said, 'Come on then, spit it out.' I said, 'I'm gay.' She said, 'Thank god for that, I thought you were going to say you'd got some slapper pregnant.' I couldn't have asked for a better response. The following day we talked about it, she asked if I had a boyfriend. She knew a few lesbians from work. (M)

I was depressed when I was 14 through to earlier this year. I think my sexuality had a lot to do with it and because of my sexuality I didn't want people to find out, I shut myself off. (F)

At school I felt anxiety and fear; in the common room, frightened of people finding out I was a lesbian. (F)

My dad found out and didn't speak to me for about five years. I feel as though I missed out on a lot of important things because of this. ...I wish my dad would have given me the chance to say what I wanted to say. M)


Effects of Homophobia on Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Young People

The following information is based on national and international research as well as the ACTION findings and on-going research within Calderdale.(2) Not all young lesbian, gay or bisexual people growing up in Calderdale will go through all of the experiences highlighted; most, however, will experience depression, isolation and lack of support.

A minority will have the active support of their parents and family; the difference this can make can not be under-estimated.

Depression

The majority, if not all, young lesbian, gay and bisexual people experience a period of crisis and depression before and/or during acceptance of their sexual orientation. Depending on their circumstances, i.e. exposed to negative messages, without support and being rejected, this can be worse and can extend into adulthood.

Anxiety

Going through the coming out process inevitably involves periods of anxiety; sometimes this can be extreme, especially for young people.

Family Rejection

About 10% of young lesbian, gay and bisexual people are positively accepted by their families; about 10% are thrown out of home; the response for the remainder is usually one of shock, horror, tears, followed by gradual acceptance, but even then the issues are rarely talked about. Sometimes acceptance can take months or even years.

Suicide

Lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are between two and six times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual youth; they may consist of up to 30% of completed youth suicides. The majority of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people will have thought about suicide.

Eating Disorders

Lesbian, gay and bisexual young people are disproportionately represented amongst young people with eating disorders; this is becoming more visible among young gay men while young lesbians with eating disorders are remaining invisible.

Homelessness

Between a quarter and a third of homeless young people are likely to be lesbian, gay or bisexual; again, these are disproportionate figures in relation to heterosexual young people.

Substance Misuse

About a third of lesbians and gay men have serious alcohol/substance misuse problems which is significantly more than heterosexual people; this usually starts in adolescence.

HIV Infection/Sexual Health

All young people are vulnerable to HIV infection, however, young gay and bisexual men are particularly vulnerable. Some young lesbians, contrary to general belief, are also vulnerable, as are young bisexual women. Research has shown rates for HIV and sexually transmitted infections to be highest where a group do not have access to information and advice which relates to them, as is often the case in secondary schools.

In an effort to make themselves straight, some young lesbian and bisexual women sleep with men; there is, therefore, a likelihood of pregnancy.

Violence

Most lesbian, gay and bisexual young people experience either verbal, physical or psychological violence. Calling someone gay/lesbian is one of the main taunts in school. Recent research shows that bullying of lesbian, gay and bisexual pupils is virulent.(3)

Under-Achievement

Research suggests that there are high truancy and drop-out rates for lesbian, gay and bisexual young people at school, as well as under-achievement and poor career opportunities. At the same time, some young lesbian, gay and bisexual people concentrate exclusively on school work as an escape from having to deal with their emerging sexuality.


[I had suicidal thoughts when I was aged] 21-25, also when I was at school but it wasn't as bad. At least 20 times; cutting my wrists with anything really, overdoses. I ended up in hospital. ...Have also tried tieing things around my neck. Looking for an easy option. (M)

I was depressed when I was 22, because of bulimia. I felt a bit fat and when I was ill with flu once I lost weight, it went on from there. I wish there had been counselling available. F

I used to be in a homeless hostel. ... The caretaker used to make comments about me and the way I dressed because it is a bit over the top. (M)

I used to drink every day. It helped me feel better. Sometimes when I drink I don't know when to stop. I drink and drink and drink. I get carried away. ... Get drunk once or twice a week. (F)

I ran away from home and went to my friend's house. We went to this chap's house and he had a load of booze. I got drunk and was out cold on the floor. I woke up and he had raped me. I felt dirty, horrible and sick. (M)

I had sex with a man when I was 15 due to pressure from my friends and maybe to prove to myself and others that I was not lesbian. (F)

[I got] queer-bashed outside the Town Hall in Halifax... Got beat up. They called me a 'Faggot' and other names. I complained to the police. They gave me the number of victim support and investigated it thoroughly. They came to my home and checked up on me. I felt they did all they could. I was shaken up at the time but I am over it now. (M)

Was suicidal when I was 16 and 22. Cause? 'A' levels, school - wasn't turning up, my sexuality and not having support in my local area. I was trying to sort things out in my own mind. Sat by the railway lines in Mytholmroyd. (M)


Why Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Young People are Vulnerable

External Factors

* Invisibility, bullying, taunts, lack of support and stress at school.

* Wall of silence surrounding the subject.

* Negative messages about homosexuality.

* Extreme social isolation.

* No/few positive role models.

* Discrimination they face when open about sexual orientation.

* Rejection/negative reactions by family/friends.

* Homophobic attitudes of authorities in care/agencies.

* Poor access to facilities. This is particularly relevant to those who live in areas like Calderdale.

* Emphasis on alcohol, drugs and sex on gay 'scene.'

* Forced to become independent too early and without the necessary skills.

* Lack of opportunities to develop peer group support.

* Lack of access to accurate information.


When I was 12-15 I'd have suicidal thoughts due to my sexuality. Not out as a lesbian. No-one for support. ... If we had information in schools then I don't think I would have got into that situation. (F)

Not enough support and information available. This contributes to mental health disorders and suicide problems. (M)

There are a lot of bad things said about homosexuals. "The Sun" wrote that all homo-sexuals are perverts - people will believe this. We banned it at work because of this. (M)

When I went for an HIV test the doctor wasn't particularly helpful. I had to see a counsellor and she was very good and helpful. When I went through to see the doctor he was horrible. He made me feel like dirt. Very unfriendly and I found this the worst part. He was very blunt and disapproving it was awful. In total it made me feel in the wrong for having gay sex. (M)


Internal Factors

* Adolescence is a vulnerable time for all young people but particularly for homosexual youth as it often coincides with awareness of sexual orientation.

* Bleak outlook for the future.

* Despair of being unable to meet others like themselves.

* Emotional stress about being homosexual when everything around them tells them that it is wrong.

* Feel separated affectionally and emotionally from others, especially from family.

* Feel alone in every social situation with family, peers, in school, church.

* Pressure of trying to hide their sexuality: feel they need to be vigilant at all times, increasing their emotional distance.

* Trying to force themselves to be heterosexual.

* Guilt caused through religious beliefs that homosexuality is a sin.

* Guilt caused through breaking the law.

* Low self-esteem.


I wanted to put myself down a lot. I wasn't doing very well at school. I found it difficult to come out. I was 15/16 and I didn't like myself at all; I wasn't happy with my appearance or personality. (M)

I did have problems accepting my sexuality. I can't put my finger on it. It is difficult. A lot of it is born out of feeling bad about it. You hear all the bad messages about it - everything is negative. (M)

I used to think it was a defect. I just think it is not the dominant sexuality so it is classed as abnormal.


Identifying Those Who Are Most Vulnerable

Not all young lesbian, gay and bisexual people are vulnerable to all of the above. Those most vulnerable include:

* those who remain isolated and without support

* those who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual at an early age

* those who are gender non-conforming (butch/sissy)

* those who belong to other minority groups

* those who come from poor backgrounds

* those who experience bullying.


I would like to be able to contact other people. It can be very isolating being young and lesbian. (F)

I was on a paper round and was harassed by people in the same year at school. I was bullied by my friend at school. My brother used to bully me too. Then again, at school, by older children. It was mainly verbal. I got beat up once. [I didn't complain] you are expected to stick up for yourself. (M)

I felt very isolated as though there was nobody at all and when I did contact a service they couldn't help me. I just felt at a loss. It made me feel terrible. (F)


Responses from Support Systems

Appropriate intervention by agencies such as the youth service, education service, counselling services, doctors, nurses, could significantly reduce the effects of homophobia but, all too often responses from these agencies are either inadequate or homophobic.

Whilst a few lesbian, gay and bisexual young people in Calderdale will have had positive experiences from individual workers within voluntary and statutory agencies, it is important to stress that this support is extremely limited and, with the exception of a handful of organisations, is often only available from one or two individuals within an agency.

The current picture facing lesbian, gay and bisexual young people in Calderdale is, on the whole, depressing and sad. It is up to us all to change this.

Production and distribution of this Booklet, funded by Calderdale MBC and Calderdale and Kirklees Health Authority, is an acknowledgment that services within Calderdale need to be improved. It is hoped that this Booklet will, as the Department of Health recommends (back page) "promote open discussion....which can help to influence professional opinion and service practice" and will enable agencies to

- make their services more easily accessible

- be more responsive to the needs of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people and that they will

- provide clear information on topics which lesbian, gay and bisexual young people see as important.


I went for a smear test. The doctor was talking about sleeping with men - I never told her that I didn't. (F)

[I came out to my doctor] when I said I had a drink problem about five years ago. Didn't get much response but they did want to help me with my drinking problem. Sent me to see a psychiatrist but I didn't feel it was the right thing for being gay. I didn't open up much as he said it was probably a phase. Talked more about my childhood and asked if I had been abused. Didn't have much information about my sexuality. No link between my sexuality and drinking problem. Didn't get much help at all. Didn't go back. Maybe counselling would have been better not a psychiatrist. [I] did not seem to get the help I wanted at all.(F)


BELIEFS AND MISINFORMATION WHICH STOPS SUPPORT FOR LESBIAN, GAY AND BISEXUAL YOUNG PEOPLE

"There are no lesbian, gay or bisexual youth in Calderdale."

Between 5% to 10% of all adolescents may be lesbian, gay or bisexual.(4) This means that there are likely to be between 1,410 to 2,820 lesbian, gay and bisexual young people aged between 13 and 25 years living in Calderdale.(5)

Few of these young people are visible because they dare not be open about their sexual orientation and are unable to discuss it with their friends, family, school or work mates. This is because:

1. Young lesbian, gay and bisexual people fear rejection should they be found out and

2. There is very little specific support in Calderdale directed at those young people who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual.

Without an acknowledgement of their existance it is hardly surprising that this group of young people are invisible. It is young lesbian, gay and bisexual people who are most isolated and without support who are most at risk.


Growing up in a small town I felt I was in complete isolation, it was depressing. (F)

It's a small rural area and everybody knows you. I used to feel that you really have to make the effort to find a girlfriend and that. I felt scared. I suppose it made me want to 'blend in' as much as I could, I felt that everything was outside of Halifax and there was nobody there for me in Halifax. (M)

When I was coming out there was nothing for me, nothing that I could relate to. I was angry, nowhere for lesbian or gay people to go. (M)

I think more leaflets should be made available in public places, especially in the Education Department. (F)


"I cannot support a young person who comes to me and tells me that he/she is gay because my religion tells me it is a sin."

It is true that several religions still condemn homosexuality as sinful whilst others are more accepting. Some say it is okay to be homosexual but not to practice it (i.e. love the sinner but not the sin). However, most of these religions are based on ethical codes which were written over 2,000 years ago; they may have served a useful purpose then (e.g. emphasis on procreation within marriage) but few of these codes are adhered in their entirety now. For example, men should not shave or cut their hair; you should not wear a garment that consists of both wool and linen; divorced persons who remarrry should be put to death, and so on.

In any discussion about religion and sexuality there is debate. What cannot be disputed is that there are lesbian, gay and bisexual people in all faith communities and that there is debate as to how these people should be treated.

It has also to be recognised that there are many caring individuals within faith communities who show considerable care and courage in supporting lesbian, gay and bisexual people because they do not believe that it is wrong.

This Booklet is about workers and the service they provide. If a worker's religious views prevents them from supporting a lesbian, gay or bisexual young person in a positive and accepting way then they should refer them to someone else who can.

Can you deny these young people the right to grow up with a positive self identity? Can you perpetuate homophobic attitudes, beliefs and behaviour which inevitably causes pain, hurt and sometimes death?


I did go and see a priest and all he said was as long as you haven't done anything we don't mind people who are gay.' Something like that. Kind of negative. (M)

I had a friend who knew I was gay and when she became a Jehovah Witness she decided not to talk to me anymore because her religion told her that you make yourself what you become. A gay is not born a gay he becomes a gay. That was her indoctrination and she followed that. It makes me feel angry and annoyed. I feel that I should have the right to have a religion and no-one should have the right to take that religion away from me. (M)

My family ... are Catholic. Catholics think it is an abomination basically. It makes me feel that if that is the view of one person it shouldn't come down to this. ... My grandma is very Catholic and rejected me a bit for me being a lesbian. She has mellowed a lot now. She is very strict Irish Catholic. (F)


"It's a Sickness"

Homosexuality was condemned when it was believed that it was simply a sexual act people chose to pursue. In the late 19th century it was recognised that homosexuality was an integral part of a person's make-up (and therefore could not be a sin). However, homosexuality as a sin was now replaced/juxtaposed by the belief that it was a sickness which, with the right kind of therapy, could be cured.

Despite evidence which strongly suggests that one's sexual orientation can never be changed (it is possible to change lifestyle, public identity and behaviour but not one's sexual orientation) and despite the majority of medical expertise agreeing with this, there are still some therapists, in particular those who are religious, who believe that they can help lesbian, gay and bisexual people become heterosexual. Not only is this impossible but it is likely to result in serious mental health problems.(6)

In 1999 the American Psychoanalytic Association financed a comprehensive review of scientific research on homosexuality. It concluded that "there is no evidence that any form of therapy, including psychoanalysis and the Christian therapies, can change sexual orientation." It also concluded that "homosexuality is not associated with psychopathology in any way."(7)

A cure is only needed when there is a problem. Homosexuality should be seen as simply one of a range of sexualities, alongside bisexuality and heterosexuality, which is equal but different.


[I did come out] to one doctor once. I don't know if it is on my records. I had just had enough and I was having panic attacks. I asked for testosterone to try and turn me straight. He talked to me for ages. He was really kind. I was shocked. It made me feel free to talk. My doctor was trying to convince me that I could be straight. I told him I was bisexual. He asked me about girls. I told him I wanted to be straight. I don't think he understood. It did help to talk but I think I helped myself which is what you should be doing. (M)


"I'd like to support them but my organisation say that this is illegal under section 28."

Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 states that 'a local authority shall not intentionally promote homosexuality' nor shall it 'promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretend family relationship.' What does 'intentionally promote' mean? Does it mean someone saying that homosexuality is better than heterosexuality? How does the discussion of homosexuality compare with the frequent manifestation of heterosexuality in provision of services, media, education, law, public places, religious services, etc?

What does 'pretend family' mean? The majority of lesbian and gay people grow up in real families; children of lesbian and gay people grow up in real families: lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Calderdale grow up in real families.

Government circulars insist that teachers can still talk about homosexuality and support lesbian, gay and bisexual young people, that local authorities can fund lesbian and gay support groups and activities. Other policies have specifically included lesbian and gay people (e.g. The Children's Act, 1991; Health of the Nation, 1992).

In effect, however, section 28 has been very successful in that it has been used by some local authorities to refuse to fund lesbian/gay support groups. Furthermore, teachers who are confused about the law have been unsupportive when young people have approached them with concerns about their sexual orientation.

It is likely that section 28 will be repealed and new guidance is to be given to schools about Sex and Relationships in Education (16th March 2000 DfEE Draft consultation document - see inner front page, letter from Department of Education and Employment).

The new Human Rights Act, which becomes part of the British constitution in October 2000, means that local authorities will, by law, have to provide equal services to everyone. "Equal rights before the law" is a basic tenet of the new Act, as is the "right not to be discriminated against."(8)


The law prohibiting the promotion of homosexuality by local authorities affected me as there was no information made available in schools where I live. There was a complete lack of information. (M)

[Being at school] made me suppress a lot more than just my sexuality. It made me aloof. When we did sex education it put pressure on me to be heterosexual. The pressure was on. [I] bottled up [my feelings]. (M)

There was never anything mentioned about it at school. Nothing on the notice board. No-one to talk to. It makes me feel really disappointed. School is supposed to make people prepared for life. (F)

The biggest thing for me would be more information available at school. Personally, that would have helped me. (F)

My concern really is the rule that you are not allowed to promote sexual health, section 28. They have created a problem because the help and support wasn't there. I am an example of that. They don't have to promote it, they can talk about it at least. There should be something done around religion. The door is shut. (M)


"Young people who say they are lesbian or gay are really confused. It is a phase that most young people go through. You cannot know that you are gay until you are at least 25 years old."

It is likely that one's sexual orientation is present from early childhood and has a strong biological basis although environmental factors may also contribute. The origin of homosexuality remains unclear, however, most experts believe that sexual orientation is not a choice. Negative experiences like sexual abuse or dysfunctioning parenting are not shown to influence sexual orientation.(9)

One's sexual identity (i.e. that which we believe we are - either homosexual, heterosexual or bisexual) evolves over time and depends on various factors.

In other words, it is likely that we are born with our sexual orientation, be it homo- hetero- or bi- sexuality which means we are sexually and emotionally attracted to either members of our own sex, the opposite sex, or both sexes. However, depending on our own, individual circumstances, we may or may not develop a homosexual (heterosexual or bisexual) identity.

Several models have been developed to help us understand the stages homosexual young people may go through in developing their sexual identity.(10) These include the following four stages:

1: Sensitization and awareness

Lesbian and gay young people often begin to feel that they are 'different' from their peers before puberty; this sometimes takes the form of gender non-conformity e.g. boys playing with girls toys and vice-versa.

2: Identity confusion

With the development of same-sex thoughts and feelings after puberty, many realise that the 'difference' is that they are lesbian/gay. However, because of negative images of homosexuality and lack of positive role models and accurate information, these young people are often confused: they respond by developing coping behaviours, hiding their homosexuality or developing a bisexual identity.

3: Identity assumption

During mid-to-late adolescence or early adulthood they begin to acknowledge to themselves that they are lesbian or gay and start to tell other people (come out). With access to peer support, positive role models, accurate information and positive experiences, the self-esteem of these young people begins to strengthen and negative stereotypes are dispelled. They begin to learn different ways to manage their stigmatised identity. This can take several years.

4: Commitment

Finally, sexual identity is incorporated into all aspects of one's life, people share their identity more and more with non-gay friends; this usually happens during adulthood. Not all lesbians and gay men consolidate their identity; this depends on access to support and positive role models, personal strengths and vulnerabilities and experiences of discrimination.

It is important for workers to understand that by telling a young person that 'It's just a phase," they can severely damage the development process.


[I first felt different when I was 8]. Me and my friends were looking through my dad's porno magazine and I was looking at women and my friend said, 'Hey, you're not supposed to be looking at them.' That's all I can remember. I remember actually kissing my best friend when I was about thirteen. We were pretending to be boy and girl at the time. I suppressed my feelings. I was 16 or 17 when I first admitted it to myself. (F)

I
was eight when I thought I was different. I put a name to these feelings at secondary school when I was about 12. (M)

I always played with girls and girls' toys when I was younger; my parents pressurised me to be more masculine when I got a bit older. (M)

I was 7 when I first thought I was different but I didn't come out until I was 18. I did have problems accepting my sexual orientation because of the negative attitude of my parents who I would describe as being homophobic and not liking anyone gay. That, and all the people at school made me feel that I don't want to be someone that nobody likes. That is what has caused it, other people's opinions. (M)

I had my first kiss with a girl when I was 8 and then I blocked it out of my mind and refused the word lesbian. I was homophobic really. Then when I was around 13 or 14 I just thought, 'No. I do like girls, but I like boys as well.' Thought I was bisexual then, but I never told anyone about it. (F)

I knew I was gay but I just didn't want to come out. (F)

I've not lived my life yet. I'm still going through school and I've yet to go to university and I know that it is hard to be accepted... I'm glad really that I had the support when I first accepted myself. I accepted myself a couple of years after really thinking about it. I always thought I was bisexual. I'm glad I had the support there as I don't really think I would have been able to cope. (F)

When I was around 17 I had sleepless nights just thinking about it. I didn't want to be and I had not experienced gay sex as such. I was just trying to accept that that is what I was destined for. I couldn't accept it at first. (M)

I don't think I ever had any great problems accepting my sexual orientation as I have had the support from the start otherwise I think I would be still in denial. (F)


"It is dangerous to accept that these young people are gay because that only encourages them to become gay. They could regret that for the rest of their lives."

There are very few people who come out as lesbian, gay or bisexual in their youth and then decide later they are heterosexual. There are tens of thousands, however, who do not come out, who try to suppress their true sexual orientation and who suffer the consequences of this.

Until lesbian, gay and bisexual people reach stage 3, of the identity process - identity assumption - they are highly vulnerable. It is not surprising that many people do not arrive at this stage.

The initial realisation of one's homosexuality usually creates great inner conflict - who wants to be this person that, it seems, everyone hates, this pervert, this sinner, this sick person...? The constant message that homosexuality is wrong leads to these young people feeling extremely isolated, lonely, depressed and, sometimes, suicidal.

The most common factor which leads to identity assumption and acceptance is contact with other lesbian, gay and bisexual people and support from the larger lesbian, gay and bisexual community. In areas like Calderdale, where there is little visible community, this does not always happen.

Until young lesbian, gay and bisexual people make contact with other lesbian, gay and bisexual people they are likely to remain extremely isolated and lonely. Without positive role models, accurate information and appropriate support they are more likely to regard themselves negatively. This can then create a whole range of mental health problems including depression, anxiety, attempted suicide, eating disorders, alcohol and drug abuse.

In circumstances like these support, acceptance and understanding from parents and friends can help significantly. If this is not forthcoming then the support of workers is critical.


[I had problems accepting my sexuality]. Meeting guys and pretending. Drinking gave me more confidence at the time to pretend to be heterosexual. It made me a lot more confident really. (F)

Personally I wouldn't wish it on anyone as I wouldn't want them to go through what I have been through. Some people are gay and happy and I envy that. If I had a choice I wish I had been a woman or been straight....I feel that sometimes I can't defend my sexuality as I have problems with it, but that has come about as I didn't have the support and the negative input - how do you get round that one? (M)

The more I realised I was gay the less I liked it and wanted the wife and children and all that kind of stuff. (M)

I suppose I pretended to be someone else going out with loads of men just trying to be accepted by friends and family, to be one of the crowd. (F)


"Why do they have to tell everyone? Why can't they keep it private?"

Heterosexuality is expressed everyday in many ways. For example, simple conversations at work include references to family, friends, weekend trips; photos of partners are often displayed on desks. Heterosexual couples walk down the street holding hands. When a loved one is in hospital, heterosexual partners are acknowledged by hospital staff and are able to express their affection by holding hands, hugging. Some heterosexual couples express their love for each other by getting engaged and married, when their relationship not only receives the blessing of their faith and families but it is also legally recognised.

By not expressing who we are - in the same way that heterosexuals express who they are - we are harming ourselves: we are lying about who we are, we are denying the very core of our being. We are being forced to remain isolated and invisible. We are being forced to hate ourselves.

Coming out, or telling people about our sexual orientation, is probably the most self-empowering act a lesbian, gay or bisexual person can do because it begins the process of getting rid of internalised self-hatred and replacing it with self-love.

The early part of coming out can be a highly dangerous time when rejection could mean a return to self-denial. It is imperative that it is the individual's choice to come out.

Forcing someone to deal with the negative responses of others whilst they are still in a period of inner conflict is highly dangerous. It can result in acute crisis and possibly major psychological problems including suicide. As well as damaging the young persons identity development process this can result in verbal or physical abuse, ostracism, condemnation, rejection by family and sometimes being thrown out of home.

Ideally a lesbian, gay or bisexual person must first accept who they are (and feel good about this), read accurate information, acquire a network of support and gradually, as and when appropriate, come out first to friends then supportive siblings and then parents - but only as and when it is safe to do so. Patience, understanding and support is what is most needed when a young person is going through this process.


He got himself into a state. He got into a bad crowd and did heroin. He's dead now. He shot himself. (M)

As lesbians you can't act like a normal couple because you would get strange looks and that. (F)

I pass as heterosexual at school - only for my own protection and in a pub, for example, as it is more acceptable. Passing can be mentally bad as you are lying to yourself; this can be quite damaging. (F)

If you pretend to be heterosexual you are building a barrier up; there will always be a false wall there and a false image which you are trying to put on. (M)

I pass as heterosexual most of the time, at work and when I go out.
Sometimes I go into my shell because really I am pretending. When I actually talk to gay friends I know I tend to let everything out but when I am with my straight friends I don't let my whole self out. (F)


"If I give support to young lesbians/gays, people might think that I am gay."

People will not think that you are gay if you, as a worker, are known for supporting all young people whatever their concerns.

In any event, what if they do? Unfortunately, many of the people who voice their homophobic beliefs are, themselves, people with a homosexual component of their personality ('closet' lesbians and gays) who have internalised homophobia.

If you are lesbian, gay or bisexual and are not out you should be aware that being in the closet places an enormous stress on your emotional well being as well as on your relationships (with partners, family and friends).

There are many lesbian, gay and bisexual workers in Calderdale who are out with their families and friends and would like to be out at work but fear discrimination. This fear is well founded: people have been sacked from their jobs or refused promotion simply because they are homosexual, especially those who work with young people.

It is likely that employment legislation will soon make it illegal to discriminate against lesbian and gay people in the workplace. The more out lesbian, gay and bisexual people there are in Calderdale the less people can say that we are an insignificant minority.


Within my tutor group I was out as a bisexual. There was quite a lot of interest and nobody was talking about me behind my back because I basically was quite confident. I stood up and told them that I had a girlfriend. They were really glad I told them and were very positive. Someone then came out to me in private; had a cry and talked to me. [It made me feel] fantastic. A huge weight had been lifted. (F)

[I first told] My partner and then friends at work. It was a wonderful reaction. They were very supportive. A few were shocked but pleased. It made me feel good and made it easier to be myself around them. (M)

I told my mum, told her everything and talk to her everyday on the phone. My dad doesn't say much; he supports me financially and emotionally: he could see I was feeling isolated and suggested I go to a social group he saw advertised in Gay Times. (M)


"We're not like them."

Lesbian, gay and bisexual people are white, black, Asian, Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Hindu; they are rich, poor, working class, middle class, upper class. Some are disabled. Some are married. They are young and old. Many are mothers and fathers. They live in the country and in cities. All come from families.

Lesbian, gay and bisexual people are daughters and sons, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, cousins. They are factory workers, solicitors, teachers, bus drivers, police officers, politicians, film stars, carpenters, artists, office workers. The only difference between lesbian, gay, bisexual people and heterosexual people is that they are emotionally and sexually attracted to members of their own sex.


There was a teacher at school who everyone knew was gay but he never came out to anyone that I am aware of. (F)

There were teachers at school who I thought were gay. It probably would have made a difference to me because it may have changed the attitude of some people. (M)

There was a male teacher who was gay; when someone asked him he just clammed up. (M)

There was a tutor at university who was out as a lesbian. It was good because if a student was worried about coming out then it would be good to know that the tutors would accept it. (F)

[If there'd been out gay teachers] the chance would have been there for someone to approach them if they wanted to. (M)

I have an aunt and an uncle who are gay. They are very supportive; they see me as this baby dyke because they were in their forties when they came out and I am young and out. (F)

I have a cousin down south who is gay. (F)

My dad's sister is a lesbian. (G)

It is more difficult being young and gay. I feel like I am in a box and every so often I can reach out to people. I'm alone really. I don't enjoy it. I don't really focus myself around it. I talk to someone now but I used to bottle up my feelings and keep them quiet. I used to write letters to myself just to let my feelings out on paper. (F)


"Why treat them differently?"

If there was no homophobia then the answer to this question would be, "No, they should not be treated differently." However, because of individual homophobia and institutionalised heterosexism, lesbian, gay and bisexual people (like other people who belong to oppressed groups such as those who are minority ethnic, disabled, young/old or poor) do not have equal access to services that heterosexuals do; nor do these services meet their needs. Furthermore, because of the effects of homophobia, they are in greater need of services. This is why lesbian, gay and bisexual people, along with other oppressed groups, should be treated differently. When there is a level playing field then there will be no need to treat anyone differently.


Doctors always make an assumption that you are straight. (M)

I wanted to talk to a gay counsellor. Went to the doctor. Referred me to a counsellor. I never went back. I found it really hard but she was very nice. I would have felt more comfortable with a lesbian woman. (F)

I have been about drugs and everything. There was a woman asking really pathetic questions. I only went once and I couldn't be bothered after that. I didn't think they did a right good job at all but that was about a drug issue. They didn't really talk about me being gay. (M)

I wanted to talk to a sexual therapist but when I was seeing someone for depression my sexuality was pushed aside. (M)


"I would like to give support to those young people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual but I don't know what they want. My training did not include working with this group and I feel out of my depth (as well as embarrassed)."

Very few professions include training related to working with lesbian, gay and bisexual young people and those that do usually only skim the surface. This Booklet will give you an idea of what support these young people need (see Providing Help Checklist). There are also a number of good resources available (see Further Reading). Ask for training.

PROVIDING HELP CHECKLIST

PREPARATION

1. INFORM yourself about what is available.
See Resources Section; make contact with appropriate agencies to find out what they offer; find out what information is available; what can your own agency offer?

2. ACQUIRE KNOWLEDGE. Find out what courses are available, read some of the excellent resources now available. (See Further Reading). There is a very good resource library at Calderdale Health Promotion Centre.

3. GET SUPPORT. There is an Inter-Agency Group in Calderdale whose purpose is to facilitate support for lesbian, gay and bisexual young people. If your department is not already represented, find out why not; volunteer yourself. (Contact Patrick Ambrose, Community Education, for further details - see Resources.)

4. CHALLENGE HOMOPHOBIA AT WORK. Challenge any colleagues or users who make homophobic comments or act in a homophobic way. If you do not have harassment policies that include homophobic incidents, find out why not. Find out what procedure to use. Find out if lesbian, gay and bisexual people are included in your Equal Opportunities Policy and if not, why not? Incorporate anti-homophobic exercises in your work with young people.

5. BE WELCOMING. Let the young people you work with know that you are approachable: use gender-neutral language, e.g. partners instead of boy/girlfriend; display positive images of lesbians, gays and bisexuals; ensure you have books and videos that include lesbian/gay/bisexual characters; invite GALYIC to give a presentation (see Direct Help); talk about issues facing young lesbians, gays and bisexuals.

6. LESBIAN/GAY MEMBERS OF STAFF. One of the best ways of letting your users know that your agency is a safe venue for lesbian, gay and bisexual people is for there to be an out member of staff. Virtually every agency in Calderdale will have a member of staff who is lesbian, gay or bisexual.

If members of staff do not feel able to be out, how can you expect young lesbian, gay and bisexual people to come out? Individuals will come out only when they feel safe to do so.

7. ASSESSING NEED. Depending on the type of service you offer, a crucial element of providing support will include assessment of need. Providing appropriate support includes taking into account a person's ethnic origin, gender, disability, age, as well as sexual orientation. However, before you can support a lesbian, gay or bisexual person you have to know about their sexual orientation. Pursuing the above actions will go some way to make lesbian, gay and bisexual people feel more confident in telling you. The following actions will further encourage this:

a. displaying lesbian/gay/bisexual posters, helpline numbers, books, publications, internet access;

b. displaying anti-discrimination policy;

c. including sexual orientation in your anonymous monitoring forms;

d. designing flyers about the services offered which specifically include services geared to lesbian, gay and bisexual people, e.g. a lesbian, gay and bisexual support group, counsellor, resources;

e. including sensitive questions about sexual orientation as part of the usual assessment procedure (e.g. when discussing relationships).

Having identified the young person as lesbian, gay or bisexual, the following steps are suggested.

DIRECT HELP

1. LISTEN to what they are saying.
It is a courageous step they are taking. They are asking YOU for support. This means that they think they can trust you. They will be terrified that you will reject them for who they are. It is imperative that you respond positively. You do not have to say much. Just listen and accept what they are saying.

2. RESPECT their feelings. They have probably been trying to deal with/accept their emerging homosexuality/bisexuality for a long time - they have probably been thinking about it for weeks, months or even years. They are putting their trust in you not to reject them. You should feel honoured that they have chosen you to confide in.

3. DO NOT DISMISS OR INSULT THEM with comments like "You are too young." "It is just a phase everyone goes through - you'll grow out of it." "Come back when you are 21." They would not be approaching you if they did not believe they were gay. (No-one chooses to belong to a hated group).

4. CONFIDENTIALITY. The importance of confidentiality to a young lesbian, gay or bisexual person who is just coming to terms with their sexual orientation is critical: it is likely they will be terrified of anyone else - especially their parents - finding out. Whilst no worker can offer total confidentiality without conditions (e.g. if a young person is in danger of harming themselves) these exceptions should be explained and whenever possible confidentiality should be adhered to.

5. GIVE ACCURATE INFORMATION. If you do not have a copy, contact GALYIC for the leaflet 'Young Gay Men Talking," or "i think i might be a lesbian...now what do i do?" and/or "pride not prejudice." Read the information yourself.

6. ACCEPT YOUR LIMITATIONS. Acknowledge if you do not know something. Accept that you have not been trained to counsel young people in this situation. If there is a member of your team who has been trained refer to that person. If there is no-one within your team who has attended relevant training, why not?

7. REFER TO GALYIC.
Support the young person to contact Gay and Lesbian Youth in Calderdale. Contact GALYIC yourself and, if necessary, come to GALYIC with them. Gay and Lesbian Youth in Calderdale is a voluntary youth support group which is managed by its members. It is supported by a Community Education paid JNC qualified youth and community worker who has years of experience of working with lesbian, gay and bisexual young people.

GALYIC offers peer support, pen-pal scheme, helpline, weekly meetings, discussions, trips, access to information (books, videos), advocacy, counselling, one-to-one support and help with coming out.


I rang a lesbian helpline; It took me two weeks to ring. I spoke to this very helpful woman and it really helped. I said, 'I think I might be gay,' and we talked. I was invited to a disco and it was really good. It was good to meet other people. (F)

I read Terry Sanderson's 'How to be a Happy Homosexual.' I thought it was very helpful. (M)

I went to a grammar school. I would have stayed on to do my 'A" levels but I hated school and could not wait to get away because of all the aggro I got for being gay. I was scared of people at school; I was always getting snide comments. (M)

It is hard to say what kind of support you would like if you have never had it. I think an advice centre would be nice, with people who are aware of lesbian and gay issues to let you know what help from agencies was available and which agency was lesbian and gay friendly. (F)

When we did sex education at school it was boy meets girl and try and not get pregnant. They should have included homosexuality and there should have been posters about the lesbian and gay youth group. (F)

I would have liked a 'young people's guide to sexuality and sexual orientation' when I was at school. Broader discussions in class and part of sex education. It was better when I was at university. The local council provided a drop-in cafe and they came to the university and did presentations. (M)

I used to belong to a voluntary theatre group. Four of the members of staff were gay and out. I used to get information from them. A lot of feelings were explored within the group; this was widely known about - and accepted - by parents. (F)

I think there should be more information available to encourage lesbians to use healthcare more. (F)

In the five years I was at school I never saw a poster, leaflet or anything. I would have liked a leaflet about sexuality and someone to talk to. The school nurse never gave out any information like that. (F)

The first book that I read about lesbianism was 'Annie on my MInd.' I could reflect on the emotions and it did make me want to read more books. I found it really helpful. (F)

I would have liked to have been able to go to a place, a youth group, to interact with people my own age. Somewhere confidential, quiet and out of the way; private really. (F)

I don't think psychiatrists give you help around sexuality. I have seen the wrong sort of person in the past - I should have seen a psychologist. You are unsure of who to see, the options are not available. (M)

I was desperate for information. It would have made me feel better. I would have liked someone to talk to. Needed information on homosexuality and sex. (M)

When you are young it is difficult coming to terms with what you are. When you are young and gay and at school you are trapped. You can't get away from a mainly heterosexual environment. (M)

There are young lesbians out there having relationships that nobody knows about. I think it is those who are more vulnerable to isolation and pressure. I still feel it now being in this relationship that I am in. I would like somewhere out there to go to finally be ourselves. (F)



RESOURCES

LOCAL LESBIAN, GAY & BISEXUAL AGENCIES

Helplines

Bradford Friend, 01274.723802

Bradford Lesbian Line, 01274.305525

GALYIC (Gay and Lesbian Youth in Calderdale), 01422.320099

Kirklees Lesbian and Gay Switchboard, 01484.538070

Youth Support Groups

BLAGY (Bradford Lesbian and Gay Youth), 01274.744224

GALYIC (Gay and Lesbian Youth in Calderdale, P.O. Box 8, Todmorden, Lancashire, OL14 5TZ. 01422.320099.

LesBiGay Youth Group, 01484.538070

Sexual Health Projects

Counsellor in Sexual Health Services, Laura Mitchell Health Centre, Angela Hodgson, 01422.363541

MSM Project: Action on sexual health for gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men in Calderdale and Kirklees, 01422.348979

Rainbow Clinic for gay and bisexual men at the Laura Mitchell Centre for Sexual Health, 01422.305553

OTHER USEFUL LOCAL CONTACTS

Calderdale College Student Services, Ron Taylor, 01422.399367

Calderdale Health Promotion Centre, Becky Reynolds, 01422.205962

Calderdale Youth in Partnership Scheme, Pam Rhodes, 01422.350294 (Youth Homelessness)

Cartwheel Youth Centre, Elland, Melanie Swanick, 01422.374533

Dashline, Alan Hodgetts, 01422.361111 (Alcohol and Drugs Counselling)

Jigsaw, Julia Hull, 01422.339500 (Children, Young People and Family Counselling)

North Halifax Community Mental Health Team, Colin Walton, 01422.355626

West Yorkshire Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Policing Initiative, Peter Stone, 01924.292523

Whitley Youth Centre, Patrick Ambrose, 01422.247788

NATIONAL AGENCIES

Albert Kennedy Trust, Unit 305a, 16-16a Baldwins Gardens, London, EC1N 7RJ. 0161.228.3308.
(Housing)

Avert (Aids Education & Research Trust) 4 Brighton Road, Horsham, West Sussex, RH13 5BA. 01403.210202.

Bisexual Line 0181.569.7500/0131.557.3620.

Black Lesbian & Gay Centre, 5-5a Westminster Bridge Road, London, SE1 7XW. 0207.620.3885.

Catholic Lesbian Sisterhood, CLS, BM Reconciliation, London, WC1N 3XX.

Deaf Flag (Federation of Deaf Lesbian and Gay Groups), 7 Victoria Avenue, South Croydon, Surrey, CR2 0QP.

FFLAG (Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), P.O. Box 153, Manchester, 0161.628.7621.

Gay and Lesbian Legal Advice, c/o Central Station, 37 Wharfdale, London, N1 9SE. 0207.837.5212.

GALOP (homophobic violence and the police) 2G Leroy House, 436 Essex Road, London, N1 3QP. 0171.704.6767.

Gemma, BM Box 5700, London, WC1N 3XX. (Lesbians with and without Disabilities)

Gender Identity Counselling BM 5434, London, WC1N 3XX.

Happy Families (Gay, Lesbian and Transgendered Parents) c/o Community House, 7 Netherall Road, Doncaster, ND1 2PH.

Kenric (Lesbian social organisation) BM Kenric, London, WC1N 3XX.

Lesbian Custody Project at ROW, 52-54 Featherstone Street, London, EC1Y 8RT. 0171.251.6577.

Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Peer Support Project, P.O. Box 153, Manchester, M60 1LP. 0161.274.4664. (Peer support for LGB youth; pen-pal scheme).

Lesbian and Gay Bereavement Project, c/o Vaughan Williams Ctr, Colindale Hospital, London, NW9 5HG. 0181.455.8894.

Lesbian & Gay Christian Movement, Oxford House, Derbyshire Street, London, E2 6HG. 0207.739.1249.

Lesbian and Gay Employment Rights, Unit 1G, Leroy House, 436 Essex Road, Islington, London, N1 3QP 0207.704.8066.

Lesbian Information Service, P.O. Box 8, Todmorden, Lancashire, OL14 5TZ. 01706.817235.

National AIDS Line 0800.567123.

National Freedom Youth P.O. Box 72, London, HA5 2UJ.

Parents Friend, 01902.820497. (Support for parents)

Quaker Lesbian and Gay Fellowship, Ruth, 3 Hallsfield, Swindon, SN6 6LR.

Quest Linkline (Lesbian and Gay Catholics) 0171.792.0234.

Regard, BM Regard, London, WC1N 3XX. (Lesbians and Gays with Disabilities)

School's Out (Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Equality in Education) Tony 01582.451424 or Sue 0171.635.0476.

SHAKTI (South Asian Lesbian and Gay Network) c/o London Friend, 0171.833.1674.

Stonewall Housing Association, 2a Leroy Building Centre, 436 Essex Road, Islington, London, N1 3QP. 0171.359.5767.

Stonewall, 46-48 Grosvenor Gardens, London, SW1W 0EB. 020.7881.9440.

TV/TS Helpline, 0161.274.3705, P.O. Box 153, Manchester, M60 1LP.

SUPPORT FOR WORKERS

Association of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Psychologies, P.O. Box 7534, London, NW1 0ZA.

Burning Issues, Librarians and information workers. Email bissues@yahoo.com

GLADD (Gay and Lesbian Doctors and Dentists) P.O.Box 5606, London, W4 1WY. 070 1070.5606.

LAGIM (Lesbian and Gay members of MSF) 0171.738.5469.

LAGLA (Lesbian and Gay Lawyers) Blenheim House, 120 Church Street, Brighton, BN1 1WH. Martin 01273.625625.

LAGPA (Lesbian and Gay Police) BM LAGPA, London, WC1N 3XX, 01426.943011.

NACAB (Lesbian and Gay workers in CABs) 0171.833.7138.

National Lesbian and Gay Officer, UNISON, 0207.3882366.

NUS Lesbian and Gay Campaign, Nelson Mandela House, 461 Holloway Road, London, N7. 0207.272.8900.

Teachers in NATFHE, 27 Britannia Street, London, WC1X 9JP. 0207.837.3636.

FURTHER READING

All of these books are held at the Lesbian Information Service.

A Stranger in the Family...how to cope if your child is gay, Terry Sanderson, The Other Way Press, 1991.

ACTION for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Youth in Calderdale, Research Project Report, Jan Bridget, Lesbian Information Service, 1999. (Local library)

Becoming Visible, a reader in gay and lesbian history for high school and college students, editor Kevin Jennings, Alyson Publications 1994.

Challenging Lesbian & Gay Inequalities in Education, edited by Debbie Epstein, Open University Press, 1994.

Christianity and homosexuality, a resouce for students, Sue Vickerman, Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, 1992.

Coming Out to Parents: A Two-Way Survival Guide for Lesbians and Gay Men and their Parents, Mary V. Borhek, The Pilgrim Press, 1983.

Free Your Mind, the book for gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth and their allies, Ellen Bass & Kate Kaufman, Harper Perennial, 1992.

Gay and Lesbian Students, understanding their needs, Hilda F. Besner & Charlotte J. Spungin, Taylor & Francis, 1992.

Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Adolescents: Providing Esteem-Enhancing Care to a Battered Population, John A. Nelson, The Nurse Practitioner, Feb 1997, p94-109. (Contact Calderdale Health Promotion Centre)

The Gay Teen, educational practice and theory for lesbian, gay and bisexual adolescents, ed. Gerald Unks, Routledge, 1995.

Helping Gay and Lesbian Youth, new policies, new programs, new practice, editor Teresa DeCrescenzo, Harrington Park Press, 1994.

Homosexuality: The Secret a Child Dare Not Tell, Mary Ann Cantwell, Rafael Press, 1996.

Lesbian and Gay Issues in the English Classroom, Simon Harris, Open University Press, 1990.

Lesbian and Gay Lifestyles, a guide for counseling and education, Natalie Jane Woodman, Editor, Irvington Publishers, 1992.

Lesbian and Gay Psychology, theory, research, and clinical applications, editors Beverly Greene, Gregory M. Herek, Sage Publications, 1994.

Lesbian and Gay Youth, care and counselling, Caitlin Ryan & Donna Futterman, Columbia Universtiy Press, 1998.

Mental health promotion and sexual identity; Health Education Authority Factsheet, 1999. Tel: 020.7413.1991. (Contact Health Promotion Centre)

My Child is Gay, how parents react when they hear the news, edited by Bryce McDougall, Allen & Unwin, 1998.

Now That You Know, what every parent should know about homosexuality, Betty Fairchild & Nancy Hayward, Harcourt Brace, 1989.

Pink Therapy, a guide for counsellors and therapists working with lesbian, gay and bisexual clients, edited by Dominic Davies & Charles Neal, Open University Press, 1996.

Queer Kids, the challenges and promise for lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth, Robert E. Owens, Harrington Park Press, 1998.

School's Out, the impact of gay and lesbian issues on America's schools, Dan Woog, Alyson Publications, 1995.

Tilting the Tower,
editor Linda Garber, Routledge, 1994.

We Don't Exactly Get the Welcome Wagon, the experiences of gay and lesbian adolescents in child welfare systems, Gerald P. Mallon, Columbia University Press, 1998.

What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality, Daniel A. Helminiak, Alamo Square Press, 1994.

When Your Child Comes Out,
Ann Lovell, Sheldon Press, 1995.

BOOKS FOR YOUNG LESBIANS, GAYS AND BISEXUALS

i think i might be a lesbian...now what do i do? Lesbian Information Service, 1999.

Growing up Gay/Growing up Lesbian, A Literary Anthology, edited by Bennett L. Singer, New Press, 1994.

Growing Up Gay, The Sorrows and Joys of Gay and Lesbian Adolescence, Rita Reed, W.W. Norton, 1997.

Joining the Tribe, Growing up Gay & Lesbian in the 90's, Linnea Due, Anchor Books, 1995.

The Journey Out - A Guide For and About Lesbian, Gay & Bisexual Teens, Rachel Pollack & Cheryl Schwartx, Puffin Books, 1995.

Two Teenagers in Twenty, writings by Gay and Lesbian Youth,
edited by Ann Heron, Alycon Publications, 1994.

Young, Gay and Proud,
edited by Don Romesburg, AlyCat Books, 1995.

Young Gay Men Talking, Avert, 1999.

REFERENCES

(1) Bridget, J. (1999) ACTION for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Youth in Calderdale, Lesbian Information Service.

(2) see Bridget, ibid for a comprehensive literature review of relevant evidence; Mullen, A. (1998) Bisexuals, Gays and Lesbians - Ethnicity, Health and Housing: A Review of Literature, ReachOUT, Reading; Nelson, J.A. (1997) Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Adolescents: Providing Esteem-Enhancing Care to a Battered Population, The Nurse Practitioner, Feb, p94-109.

(3) Mullen, op.cit.

(4) Lesbian and Gay Youth, care and counselling, Caitlin Ryan & Donna Futterman, Columbia Universtiy Press, 1998; Nelson, op.cit.

(5) Based on 1998 statistics from Calderdale MBC.

(6) Haldeman, D.C. (1994) The Practice and Ethics of Sexual Orientation Conversion Therapy, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Vol 62(2) p2210227.

(7) A Lesbian Position, Vol 18(1), April 1999.

(8) The Pink Paper, 17th March 2000.

(9) Acts of Disclosure, the coming-out process of contemporary gay men, Marc E. Vargo, Harrington Park Press, 1998; Ryan & Futterman, op.cit.; Nelson, op.cit.

(10) Ryan & Futterman, op.cit.



In a letter to Alice Mahon, MP, dated 28th February 2000, Mr. John Hutton, MP, Minister of State, Department of Health, states:

"Thank you for your letter....enclosing a copy of a research report on lesbian, gay and bisexual youth in Calderdale.

The report indicates the current variability of the health service response to the needs of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people and there is undoubtedly room for improvement. We expect, for example, that services used by young people should be easily accessible, that there should be clear information on topics that young people see as important and that the offered help should be responsive to the age, circumstances and orientation of the young person.

The Government's approach to the promotion of good health and reducing inequalities in health - which applies equally to health issues for lesbians, gays and bisexuals - is set out in the White Paper 'Saving Lives - Our Healthier Nation'. This includes sections on self-harm and suicide as well as education in sex and relationships. The document sets out the action needed on the part of individuals, local partnerships and Government to help people take responsibility for their own health as well as getting the best out of the NHS.

I welcome the production of reports such as the one you enclose which promote open discussion of topics of keen interest to young people and which can help to influence professional opinion and service practice."