Information

This general information is provided as a guide for young people, parents and caregivers, service professsionals and schools. If you find incorrect information please contact us to have the relevant page updated.

Same sex attracted and gender diverse

Sexual identity is a complex and lifelong process of understanding one’s gender and sexual orientation and what this means for them as a person.

Finding out that you are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender can be a challenging and confusing time for a young person and their family.

For some young people, identifying themselves as GLBTI can mean relief from their confused feelings, and for others it can be fraught with uncertainty.

It has been estimated that 7 to 11% of Australia’s youth population are not unequivocally heterosexual. Research also highlights that GLBTI young people were more likely to experience homophobic discrimination. Consequently, some young people choose not to come out publicly for fear of this discrimination. Further, there is increasing evidence of a link between GLBTI young people and attempted suicide.

Coming out

Coming out can be a time of both positive and negative experiences. Many young people, struggling with sexual identity in a predominantly heterosexual environment, can experience a range of negative feelings that can sometimes result in symptoms of depression.

Refer to the depression section of this website for more information.

Useful Definitions

Heterosexual: People whose sexual and emotional feelings are for the opposite sex.

Homosexual: People whose sexual and emotional feelings are for the same sex.

Same-Sex Attracted: Those who are attracted to people of their own sex.

Bisexual or Bi: Those whose sexual and emotional feelings are for both women and men.

Lesbian: Women whose sexual and emotional feelings are for women.

Gay: People whose sexual and emotional feelings are for the same sex. In Australia, this can mean men or woman, although it tends to be used mainly for men.

Transgender/Trans: Those whose gender identity or behaviour falls outside the usual expectations of their gender. This includes people who feel that their anatomical gender is at odds with their inner sense of being ‘male’ or ‘female’.

Transsexual: People who are born anatomically male or female but have a profound identification with the opposite gender. Not all transsexual people see themselves as being transgender.

Intersex: A biological condition where a person is born with physical characteristics and/or sex chromosomes that is not exclusively male or female.

Sexual Orientation and Sexuality: The nature of a person’s basic emotional and sexual attraction to other people.

Homophobia/Biphobia/Transphobia: Individual fear or hatred of gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people. Actions can include prejudice, discrimination, harassment or violence.

(Adapted from Same Sex Eastern Action (SSEA) Celebrating Diversity CD ROM)

Strategies

Professionals

  • Create a safe and supportive environment for young people to feel comfortable to speak openly about their sexuality.
  • Never make assumptions about anyone’s sexuality, always use inclusive language, for example "Do you have a partner?"
  • Provide young people with accurate information.
  • Advise young people on resources available as well access points to referrals if needed.
  • Be aware of risk factors such as safety for the young person.

Children/Adolescents

  • Realising you might be GLBTI is a different experience for everyone; the term ‘coming out’ is also very different for everyone. Coming out is decision you should make for yourself and you don’t have to ‘come out’ or ‘label’ yourself if you don’t want to.
  • If you feel comfortable, talk to a professional or someone you trust; have a plan in place if things don’t go o.k.

Parents/Carers

  • When a young person ‘comes out’ it can be extremely hard for families. Parents often have their own anxieties for their loved one.
  • Support your young person and yourself by reading up on sexuality and gender.
  • Having open and frank discussions with your child will help you better understand their position and help you show them your support.
  • There are support groups available for parents of GLBTI young people. These groups will help you find the information you need while coming to terms with your child’s sexual orientation.

Useful Websites & Resources

  • My Friend is Gay - a peer support resource developed to provide pathways of support for parents, friends, siblings and those who work with GLBTI young people. www.also.org.au
  • Rainbow Network: www.glhv.org.au
  • Bisexual Network Victoria: www.bi-victoria.org
  • PFLAG (Parents, families & friends of lesbians & gays) www.pflagaustralia.org.au