LGBTQ+ children and young people face the same risks as all children and young people, but they are at greater risk of some types of abuse.
It’s essential that sport or activity providers create a supportive and welcoming culture for all children, safe from harm and a place where they can thrive.
Being LGBTQ+ isn’t a safeguarding risk, it’s how others in our society may behave towards a young person who categorises themselves as LGBTQ+ that may cause risk. Many young people may just want to discuss with you how they feel, so it's important that if they trust you to talk to, you respond in a positive supportive manner.
What does LGBTQ+ mean?
LGBTQ+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning and more. This term covers a broad range of people who have different lived experiences and may be at different stages in exploring their gender and sexuality and includes people who are asexual or have differences in sex development (sometimes known as intersex).
Awareness and understanding
Communication is key, you shouldn’t assume any young person would want to be separated or excluded from activities, have a conversation with them regarding their needs and if any changes or amendments are required. This is good practice for all young people, to make them feel heard and valued within your club or activity.
Many children and young people may have known or questioned their sexuality or gender identity from a young age. A large number don’t tell anyone until they are older. This may be because they are scared or worried about others’ reactions to their identity or sexuality.
To help facilitate a young person’s own understanding and confidence, your sport club or activity should promote the Childline website and contact details as they can support a young person with advice about their feelings or sexual identity.
The window of time between first questioning their identity and starting to accept themselves (or coming-out) can lead to young people's emotional wellbeing and mental health being impacted. For example, they may experience:
- low self-esteem or possibly depression
- feeling a sense of isolation
- minority stress
- a need to prove themselves in other areas of their lives
- imposter syndrome
- fear of bullying
Your club or activity should strive to create a culture of acceptance, awareness and understanding of different types of sexuality and gender identities.
Key things to remember
- treat everyone with respect and fully implement equal opportunities
- let young people know that they can talk to you and that their privacy will be respected - confidentiality practice should reflect that of your safeguarding procedure
- support young people to find the right information and specialist support services
- reinforce an ethos of acceptance and difference
- support all young people within your club or activity, so they feel valued, heard, able to express themselves and progress in their sport
- challenge abusive or harmful behaviours (homophobia, transphobia, racism, sexism, and any other form of discrimination)
- challenge gender stereotypes and celebrate difference
- promote LGBTQ+ related events and campaigns to demonstrate openly that your club or activity has inclusive values
- do not automatically assume a person’s sexual orientation or gender
- promote LGBTQ+ specialist services to everyone in your sport or activity
If your club is part of a National Governing Body (NGB) or Active Partnership (AP), ensure you are following your organisations equality, diversity and inclusion or transgender policies and procedures.