Lesbian Visibility Week: Young lesbian adults most likely to feel ‘ashamed’ of being LGBTQ+, study finds

Composite image of woman with black-out paint over her eyes against the lesbian flag

An overwhelming majority (79 per cent) of lesbian young adults say they’ve felt “ashamed” of being LGBTQ+, alarming research has found. 

A study by LGBTQ+ young people’s charity Just Like Us found that lesbian young adults were the most likely of all LGBTQ+ identities to say they were ashamed of being part of the community, with trans youth (78 per cent) and non-binary youth (76 per cent) following close behind. 

The survey, which questioned 3,695 young people aged 18 to 25, found that five per cent of lesbians “always” feel ashamed of being LGBTQ+, 38 per cent “sometimes” feel ashamed, and only 20 per cent report “never” feeling ashamed of who they are. 

Overall, over two thirds (70 per cent) of young adults reported feeling ashamed of being LGBTQ+. 

“It is heartbreaking to see that so many LGBT+ young adults feel ashamed of who they are,” Amy Ashenden, interim CEO of Just Like Us, said in a statement.

“No young person should be ashamed because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans. 

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“I’m incredibly saddened to see that young lesbians are the most likely in our community to feel ashamed of who they are. I know from working with young lesbians, and our previous research, that there are serious lesbophobic stereotypes delaying lesbians from coming out and lesbians still face complex challenges, stemming from a double hit of homophobia and misogyny.

“If you are a teacher, please get in touch with Just Like Us – we have resources and training to help you make sure that LGBT+ young people never have to feel ashamed of who they are again.”

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The data forms part of a new report by Just Like Us, called Positive Futures, which will look at the experiences of LGBTQ+ young adults in the UK, from wellbeing to intersections like race and disability. 

A spokesperson for LGBTQ+ youth charity Mosaic Trust added in a statement to PinkNews: “Just Like Us’ research findings make for a sobering reading. 

“It shows how important community spaces like Mosaic LGBT+ Young Persons’ Trust are, where young LGBT+ people can not only make friends and learn about the community, but also explore and shape their own identities. 

“Recent years have seen not only external attacks on LGBT+ community, but also growth of internal divisions with LGB Alliance at the the helm.

“We have a responsibility for the next generation of our community to be proud, healthy and safe – that can only be achieved by building a sense of belonging through intersectional awareness, inclusive practices and allyship within our LGBT+ community.”

Pippa Sterk, an ambassador for Just Like Us, previously explained that lesbians grappled with loneliness on a particularly high scale during the COVID-19 pandemic, with four out of five lesbians saying their mental health got worse through lockdown.

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