June is Pride Month, a month dedicated to celebrating the LGBTQ+ communities all around the world. Pride is celebrated with parades and marches but due to COVID-19 some events are taking place across the internet, including on Zoom and other social media sites. With activities going online to commemorate this month, Childnet is celebrating ways the internet can be used to celebrate and find support for LGBT+ Young People.
Technology and the internet can contribute towards the ongoing search for greater representation, for example, there are now emojis showing gender neutral characters and same-sex couples and families.
Additionally, 95% of LGBT young people say the internet has helped them find positive role models (Stonewall School Report, 2017). The importance of seeing people you identify with or who look like you should never be underestimated. LGBT+ young people may be more likely to find a role model online, whose experiences are more like their own, than in their offline communities.
Being connected and part of something
Pride month is a time to feel connected and celebrate in love and friendship, to show how far gay rights have come, even if in some places there's still some work to be done. The internet provides a new opportunity for these celebrations to span wider than immediate cities and parades.
Unfortunately, loneliness can be part of many LGBT+ people’s experiences, especially when they are younger and perhaps feel they do not have anyone else around them who can identify with what they are going through. In these instances, young LGBT+ people can use the internet to feel part of a supportive community. For example, they can access forums or groups and conversations using social media.
A space to explore identity
The internet is a place where everyone can explore content that they identify with or find inspiring. For LGBT+ young people, seeing content that celebrates and respects difference can be reassuring, especially if this is not something they are experiencing in their offline life.
90% of LGBT young people say they can be themselves online (Stonewall School Report 2017), and we know the internet can be an important space for LGBT+ young people to express themselves truthfully in the content that they create and share. For example, trans young people or young people with other gender identities may feel more able to represent their true gender online.
A space for help, guidance and education
Being LGBT+ comes with its own unique set of challenges, such as coming to terms with who you are in a society that doesn’t always accept you, or fear of discrimination and rejection.
Guidance and help with wellbeing, practical support, and trans-specific care, to name just a few, are more readily available because of the internet. Organisations like Young Stonewall provide much-needed support that LGBT+ people may not be able to get from the people that are currently around them.
96% of LGBT young people say the internet has helped them understand more about their sexual orientation and/or gender identity (Stonewall School Report 2017). The internet can be an important source of educational information that may not be taught or shared in all schools.