Young Lesbians and Gay Men

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2003 National Lesbian & Gay Conference
1 August 2003
Carried as Amended

Conference notes that young lesbians and gay men are six times more likely to attempt suicide than other young people. They are also more likely to succeed so they account for over half of actual youth suicide in the UK.

Conference therefore welcomes the (almost certain) repeal of Section 28 as the single most effective step to reduce suicide among young lesbians and gay men but its legacy leaves many workers uncertain and fearful of “promoting homosexuality” and there is no national policy framework to support young lesbians and gay men. For example the National Suicide Prevention Strategy does not mention sexuality and although there has been national policy on sex and relationships education in schools for over fifteen years it remains too half-hearted to have real impact upon what is actually taught.

At this year’s Labour Party Conference, UNISON Labour Link members warned the Government about complacency and raised ongoing concerns including:

(a)the Government’s refusal to issue a statutory code of practice for the new sexual orientation regulations or to take early steps on a statutory enforcement body;

(b)the religious and marriage exemption clauses in the new regulations;

(c)the Government’s lack of committment to introduce comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation covering goods and services;

(d)the unacceptability of different levels of rights and responsibilities in proposed registered partnership schemes between England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland; and

(e)the lack of co-ordinated action to address the damage caused by Section 28/2A

As a result many young lesbians and gay men find the only way to protect themselves is to retreat further into the closet. With nowhere to turn for help they cannot challenge homophobic bullying, they cannot find self-acceptance and they remain isolated even – rather, especially – from each other. These experiences are further exacerbated for black and disabled lesbian and gay young people.

Schools must be at the heart of a national strategy to support young lesbians and gay men. All schools should:

1. have equality policies specifically including sexual orientation;

2. have anti-bullying policies which deal specifically with homophobic bullying;

3. ensure there is a curriculum free of heterosexism;

4. have links with other organisations and agencies which enable young lesbians and gay men to seek advice and support outside school as well as within it.

Conference therefore instructs the National Lesbian and Gay Committee to work with the Labour Link to lobby the Department for Education and Skills to ensure:

A. that there are guidance and resources to ensure that all schools adopt and implement such policies and that these are subject to inspection;

B. that adequate training is available to all school staff (not just teachers) school governors and others working with young people including Personal Advisors/Careers Officers, Youth Workers, Social Workers in Education etc.;

C. that there is sufficient local authority funding for lesbian and gay (L&G) youth groups and for detached youth work with young lesbians and gay men delivered as part of Transforming Youth Work (in England) and integral to local authorities’ youth services’ curriculum;

D. that there are links with other local authority services including housing, leisure, social services, play development and community development as well as links with the National Health Service, Connexions/Careers services and Further and Higher Education.

Conference congratulates the National Lesbian and Gay Committee (NLGC) upon its continuing work with Schools Out and with the Trades Union Congress (TUC) co-ordinated joint union campaign against homophobic bullying in education.

Conference instructs the NLGC to:

i. raise the issues in this motion with the National Executive Council, appropriate Service Group Executives and the National Affiliated Political Committee;

ii. continue its work with Schools Out and the TUC and encourage branch and regional L&G groups and individual members to take part;

iii. identify pieces of work which regional and branch L&G groups can take forward in their regions/nations, localities and individual schools.

iv.continue to work with Labour Link in Scotland to lobby the Scottish Executive, especially in relation to the introduction of partnership rights, to ensure that there is no hierarchy in lesbian and gay equality within the UK;

v.urge Labour Link to campaign for comprehensive anti-discrimiation legislation, covering the provision of goods and services across all discrimination grounds.