By Richard Lawrence-Allen
Last weekend marked the culmination of a month long celebration of LGBTQ+ Pride here in London as the annual Pride in London Parade took to the streets once more. Last Friday, here at RSVP, to round off our own celebrations, we broke out the fizzy pop, some delicious rainbow-coloured goodies, and a large helping of cheesy tunes to get people in the mood for a fantastic Pride-filled weekend.
However, this year, in addition to our own little RSVP party throughout the day, in light of recent events in the news and our new partnership with the charity Stonewall as one of their Diversity Champions, we wanted to go a little bit further to bring the issues faced by the LGBTQ+ community into the spotlight. Using materials and information packs gathered from Stonewall we sought give our staff a little something to think about for the Pride Weekend.
Here at RSVP we are very lucky to have had a wide variety of people from the LGBTQ+ community come to join work family. We have always striven to create a nurturing environment for each and every individual regardless of race, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc. to feel confident and comfortable here, creating a space in which everyone can thrive in. Nevertheless, for those outside of a minority community, it can be difficult to truly empathise with the struggles and prejudices that some people face. Education is always the way to combat this.
Based on a YouGov poll of more than 5000 LGBTQ+ individuals, Stonewall reports that one in five LGBTQ+ people have experienced a hate crime or incident related to their sexual orientation in the last year. This figure alarmingly doubles when looking at the figures solely for trans individuals, who experienced hate crimes or incidences based on their gender identity in the last 12 months. This survey also found BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) and disabled individuals to be disproportionately affected by these prejudices.
While great advances in equality may have been taking place over recent years for the LGBTQ+ community, and progress is continually being made, startlingly hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people has been increasing significantly. The number of lesbian, gay and bisexual people to have experienced hate crime or incidents related to their sexual orientation has risen by 78% between 2013 and 2017. Nevertheless, four in five of those experiencing these incidents don’t go on to make an official report to the police.
Fear within the LGBTQ+ community for their safety is real. More than one third of LGBTQ+ people avoid certain areas as they do not feel safe there, fearing abuse or attack. Additionally, more than half of gay men (58%) don’t feel comfortable holding their partner’s hand while walking down the street, in case of drawing negative attention, despite being a common and simple display of affection. Abuse of young people online is also a growing worry, with one in ten LGBTQ+ people reported to have received homophobic, biphobic or transphobic abuse online in the last year.
Young people seem to be at the greatest risk; 56% of trans people aged 18-24 and 33% of gay, lesbian and bisexual youths of the same age range have been found to be targets for hate crime and abuse based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
With these things in mind it is clear that education on LGBTQ+ issues is vital. There has been a great debate in the news recently regarding this topic, with some claiming, for unknown or misguided reasons, that it is inappropriate to teach children about the LGBTQ+ community, equal right for LGBTQ+ individuals and the persecution these individuals have and continue to face.
Despite some protest against it, Amanda Spielman, the head of Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) has shown her support of LGBTQ+ inclusive education and the ‘No Outsiders’ project, bringing LGBTQ+ inclusion into Primary schools in Birmingham. This initiative is moreover supported by the Secretary of Education as well; great progress from a political party known for introducing the controversial bill Section 28 (since repealed) that sought to supress LGBTQ+ representation in the past.
According to the APA (America Psychological Association), the reasons people hold extreme prejudices and go on to commit hate crimes, is often not do to simple hate of a minority, but more so out of irrational fear, ignorance and misunderstanding of a group. Looking at recent attacks on LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly by younger perpetrators, it is clear that proper education in schools is vital in tackling abhorrent and bigoted abuse of LGBTQ+ people in the UK, and all across the world as well.
Here at RSVP we hope that everyone had a fantastic month celebrating LGBTQ+ Pride and that everyone continues to spread the message of love and acceptance of Pride throughout the entire year.