Young lesbians more likely to be lonely: UK youth study
A study conducted by a UK charity group for LGBTQ young people reported that during the pandemic lockdown, there were more young lesbians who reported feeling lonely as compared to young gays, bisexuals, or transgenders.
The organization, Just Like Us, undertook an independent survey of 2,934 secondary school students, of which 1,140 were LGBTQ youth, across 375 schools and colleges in December 2020 and January 2021.
Of this number of LGBTQ 11-18 years old, 55 percent worried about their mental health on a daily basis. This is higher than the 26 percent of their non-LGBTQ peers who felt the same.
The state of the LGBTQ youth in the UK
While all those under the LGBTQ umbrella reported feeling lonely in the Just Like Us survey, almost nine out of ten or 87 percent of lesbians felt this way on a daily basis.
They also reported feeling more separated from the people they were closest to.
In comparison, only 46 percent of gay boys, 54 percent of young bisexuals, and 52 percent of young transgender people reported this frequency of feeling lonely and separated.
Likewise, 78 percent of young lesbians reported feeling their mental health getting worse on a daily basis as compared to 74 percent of bisexuals, 71 percent of gay boys, and 70 percent of transgender people.
But in comparison to their heterosexual peers, only 49 percent reported the frequency of feeling their mental health getting worse.
Why are young lesbians feeling more lonely?
Amy Ashenden, Head of Comms and Media at Just Like Us, said: “I’m not at all surprised that, on the whole, young lesbians are struggling significantly more than young gay boys.”
“Even the word lesbian is still a taboo– it’s seen as something awkward, shameful, or even embarrassing or cringeworthy,” Ashenden said.
She added, “I think probably almost all young lesbians internalize this to some degree, which takes a lot of unpicking in later life.”
Further, she cited the lack of visibility in media and wider society, as well as the homophobia and sexism faced by lesbians.
Ashenden further noted that even before the pandemic, lesbians have always looked for safe spaces and community networks.
Young lesbians worry about their mental health
The organization’s survey reported that young lesbians are worrying significantly more about the state of their mental health with 61 percent.
This is comparison to gay boys with 40 percent, bisexuals with 60 percent, and transgender people with 65 percent.
Dominic Arnall, Chief Executive of Just Like Us, expressed hope that the research will begin to shed light on the experiences of young lesbians.
Arnall cited the importance of looking at the experiences of different identities within the LGBTQ umbrella separately
This, he said, will ensure “that we understand the different people within the acronym and how their identities might affect their experiences.”