The spectrum of sexual and gender diversity can include, but is not limited to, gay, lesbian, transgender, intersex or questioning. Sexuality is not easily defined; it is not black and white, right or wrong but homophobia, or heterosexism, occurs because of a lack of understanding, intolerance or prejudice.
Every day, a significantly larger proportion of sexual and gender diverse (SGD) young people experience violence, harassment and bullying compared with their heterosexual counterparts. This is likely to lead to poorer mental health outcomes, sometimes dangerous use of alcohol and other drugs, and possible attempts at suicide.
The statistics are alarming:
- 80% of youth experience the worst kind of homophobic harassment at school,
- Lesbian and bisexual women are between two and three times more likely to experience depression and anxiety compared to heterosexual women,
- 17% of lesbian and bisexual women exhibit self-harming behaviors,
- Just over 67% of lesbians have experienced discrimination or harassment in their workplaces.
Despite anti-discrimination laws in place to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity it occurs either directly or indirectly all too often. Harassment can include being asked unwelcome questions about sexual orientation, being publicly outed, being socially excluded, being sexually harassed or experiencing physical violence or threats.
August 29th, 2014 is Wear It Purple day. Wear It Purple is a non-profit organisation run by students for students and other young people to create supportive, safe and accepting environments for sexual and gender diverse young people. This year’s focus is to turn sexuality stereotypes and preconceptions on their head. SGD people are not defined by their sexuality or gender identity and should not be treated like they are any different to anyone else. Wear It Purple aims to increase awareness about the discrimination SGD people experience and to empower schools to create a supportive environment where everyone is inclusive and feels like they belong.
What can you do?
Encourage your University, workplace or child’s school to show their support by wearing purple; educate yourself and others about what it means to be on the sexual and gender diverse spectrum; and advocate for change in your community.
Wear purple today and let everyone know that you support the inclusion of sexual and gender diverse people in all aspects of the community.
If you or someone you know is experiencing discrimination, harassment or just need someone to talk to here are some useful contacts:
Lifeline – 13 11 14 (over 18s)
Kids Helpline – 1800 551 800 (5 to 25 years)
Headspace – 1800 650 890
Suicide Call Back Service – 1300 65 94 67
Living Proud (LGBTI Community Services) – 1800 184 527 http://www.livingproud.org.au/
Sexual Assault Resource Centre (SARC) counseling – (08) 9340 1828 (over 13 years)
Image taken from http://wearitpurple.org/