It's OK 2BU!

FFLAG recently attended Equality South West's conference 'It's OK2BU' at Somerset College, Taunton. The conference looked at the issues faced by young lesbian, gay bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBT) people in schools, colleges, workplaces and communities.
Research in the South West shows that, even today many young LGBT people do not feel that it's ok to be themselves. They continue to face people who are ignorant and prejudiced and young LGBT people are made to feel uncomfortable or even unsafe in their surroundings.
 
Human Resources Director of the College, Sheena Murphy­Collett spoke movingly about her own personal 'coming out' experience. It was heartening to learn that she met the person who was to become her civil partner when they were both in their teens. Sheena talked about the zero tolerance of any sort of homophobic/transphobic 'banter' and the open and supportive atmosphere there is at Somerset College towards LGBT students and staff.
 
Speakers included Andrew Wilson, founder of the youth group 2BU, Jonathon Charlesworth of Education Action Challenging Homophobia (EACH), and representatives from Stonewall and the Government's Equalities Office Berkeley Wilde of The Diversity Trust gave a presentation ' Delivering Equality: LGBT people in Somerset and their experiences of health and social care'
 
There was discussion around 'cyber homophobia' and how bullying can follow a young person from school in to their home via the various social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
 
One of the workshops, run by members of the 2BU youth group entitled 'What's the point? Nothing will change...' looked at young LGBT people's experiences in schools/colleges and how this has affected their mental health.
 
Lest we get complacent and think that things are okay for young LGBT people we need to remember the impact that homophobic or transphobic 'banter' has on our young people. We all need to work together to ensure that young people can be out, proud and valued... and that it is indeed OK to be you!

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