Young queer people still being forced back into closet at work, concerning study finds

A woman looks stressed with her head resting on her hand.

A new survey has revealed that one in four young, LGBTQ+ people will hide their sexuality in the workplace, essentially going back into the closet, due to concerns over how they might be perceived by colleagues.

The research, conducted by LGBTQ+ charity Just Like Us, asked more than 3,695 young people aged between 18 and 25 about their experiences in the workplace and how their sexual identity affected their work and life.

Gay men were the most likely to not feel safe at work, with 31 per cent saying they were not open about their sexuality in the workplace.

Bullying is also a major issue for LGBTQ+ youth in the workplace, according to the survey, with 19 per cent of queer youths saying they were picked on at work.

Gay men and asexual young people were the most likely to get bullied, with 23 per cent mentioning such incidents. In comparison, 14 per cent of straight co-workers said they had suffered bullying.

In addition, 14 per cent of LGBTQ+ people found it difficult to be themselves at work. That figure rose to 20 per cent for trans people.

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‘Extremely concerning’

Amy Ashenden, interim chief executive of Just Like Us, said the results were “extremely concerning” after it was revealed that a quarter of those survey admitted to going back into the closet after starting work.

“Our research shows that the treatment of LGBT+ people in British society today is preventing young adults from thriving at work,” Ashenden said.

“LGBT+ young people deserve to safely be themselves at school, home and work – there must be no exceptions.”

LGBTQ+ youth are more likely to be bullied at work. (Getty Images)

The survey also explored how sexual identity affects whether or not an individual gets a job. Trans youth were the least likely to be employed with 56 per cent saying they were unemployed, while 64 per cent of gay men reported being in work.

But, even after getting a job, LGBTQ+ youths still faced obstacles when it came to salary and pay gap. LGBTQ+ young adults made less than their straight peers: 24 per cent of LGBTQ+ young adults earn less than £19,999 per year, compared with 16 per cent of those who don’t identify as queer.

Asexual and young lesbian adults were the most likely to be poorly paid.

Ashenden said: “Our research shows young women suffer from lower salaries and a potential gender pay gap very early on in their careers, but LGBT+ women and trans people are hit even harder.

“These high levels of workplace bullying and what appears to be a LGBT+ pay gap among the youngest in our workforces should be a real cause for concern. Workplaces must do more on LGBT+ inclusion – LGBT+ young people are eager for their support.”

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