New research from Monash Universities Centre for Youth Policy and Education Practice has found that queer youth in Australia face unique challenges that are disproportionate to their heterosexual peers. The study cites education, health and employment as being areas of concern for queer Australians.
RESULTS DEMONSTRATE THE STRUGGLES OF LGBTQIA+ YOUTH
The report by Monash is titled Queer Young People In Australia: Insights From The 2021 Australian Youth Barometer. The study surveyed over 500 young Australians aged 18-24. The authors also conducted in-depth interviews with 30 participants to gather research. The writers of the report also cite from the 2021 Australian Youth Barometer, which states almost one in five participants identify as queer.
The results found that 33% of queer youth fear interacting with heterosexual people their own age. A further 21% feel they don’t belong in educational institutions and are 1.4 times more likely to rate their mental health as being poorer than their heterosexual peers.
Shockingly, the report also indicates 85% of participants are pessimistic about working in a meaningful occupation and 71% have sought mental health support in recent years.
Blake Cutler, the lead author of the report and researcher at the Centre For Youth Policy And Education Practice, believes that young people interact in spaces that don’t feel safe for them. Structural change must be implemented before queer youth can feel equal. “For many queer young people, schools are places where they face regular harassment and discrimination,” says Mr Cutler.
“These negative experiences contribute to poorer wellbeing outcomes and queer young people face significant challenges when accessing crucial queer-affirming health and mental health care. The onus to address these issues is on us all.”
IMPLICATIONS OF A REPORT LIKE THIS
From the last federal election, it’s evident that LGBTQIA+ youth are often used in political strategy. Legislation impacts their lives in a more direct way than some of their peers and the issue of inclusion can place heavy strains on their mental health.
The incentive behind Queer Young People In Australia: Insights From The 2021 Australian Youth Barometer is to encourage Australians to witness the effects our current systems are having on queer youth. The research identified education, employment, technology, health and wellbeing, finances, housing, civic participation and the impact of COVID-19 as being areas of disproportionate concern.
Policy makers, educators and allies of the LGBTQIA+ community are encouraged to reflect on areas where queer youth are being let down and take evidence-based actions to ameliorate the root cause of the inequality.
Co-author of the paper Professor Lucas Walsh says, “While queer young people are well aware of the challenges faced by their community, their concerns are not being heard, especially by the Australian Government and particularly during this election. We need to be doing more to create safer schools and in the provision of mental health and wellbeing support.”