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Cardiff Charity Community Community Health South Wales

Thousands of young people turn to Childline for support around gender and sexuality

THOUSANDS of children and young people across the UK continue to turn to Childline with queries and concerns about gender and sexuality.

Over the past 12 months the NSPCC service delivered 2,419 counselling sessions related to these issues. Where gender was known, 62% of these counselling sessions was with young people who identified as trans or non-binary.

The charity has released this data to mark Pride Month and to remind all children and young people that Childline offers free, impartial and non-judgemental support to everyone, no matter the topic. 

The top five concerns discussed around sexuality and gender identity were:

  • Coming out
  • Questioning sexuality/gender identity
  • Gender dysphoria (where young people feel there is a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity)
  • Bullying based on gender or sexuality
  • Discrimination and/or prejudice

Young people also contacted the service to talk about homophobia and transphobia they felt they had experienced or witnessed, either first-hand, online or through the media. Concerns are also being discussed that include waiting lists for services, such as gender identity services.

This Pride Month, the NSPCC is letting all young people know that Childline is there for them. The charity will be at Pride events up and down the country, which will be sponsored by Lidl GB, to show their support.

Thousands of people joined the Pride Cymru parade in Cardiff on Saturday in Wales’ biggest celebration of equality and diversity.

And last week, NSPCC Cymru staff joined hundreds to show their support at Cowbridge Pride where H from Steps led the celebrations.

Through their Talk Relationships service, the NSPCC is also supporting secondary school teachers to feel more confident when delivering sessions around healthy relationships and leading inclusive discussions.

Childline is encouraging adults to be understanding and respectful when young people are exploring their sexuality and gender identity, as well as being there for any young person who wishes to discuss these topics. Childline is also a safe space for young people to explore this subject and there are resources available online for both children and parents.

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Many young people will approach Childline to speak to a trained counsellor if they are finding it difficult to reach out to a trusted friend or adult to discuss these topics.

One young person, aged 15, told Childline: “I’m struggling to let my parents know I’m gay. I’ve told my sister, and that went well, but I know my parents will be dismissive and just say I’m too young to know for sure. I don’t want them to change everything about how they see me because of my identity, but at the same time I want them to accept and love me for who I really am.”

Concerns around bullying due to gender and sexuality issues are also being addressed by counsellors – Childline provided over 330counselling sessions in the past year where young people mentioned this type of bullying.

Shaun Friel, Childline Director, said: “Young people may worry about judgement or a lack of acceptance when expressing their thoughts and concerns around sexuality and gender identity.

“That is why it’s crucial that there are confidential and non-judgemental spaces such as Childline where children can share freely and feel supported. This Pride Month, the service remains as committed as ever to helping young people with these concerns.”

Childline is available for young people via the phone on 0800 1111 and online through the 121 chat on the Childline website.

Children can also visit the website to find more advice on any concerns or questions they may have on gender identity and sexuality. There is the service’s moderated message boards to get support from their peers.

For parents and carers, the NSPCC also has information on its website on how to talk to children about their sexuality and advice on how to help keep them safe.

For the second year, Lidl GB is sponsoring the NSPCC’s presence at Pride events in Great Britain, helping the charity to demonstrate that it is there for all children and young people. Lidl GB’s funding covers the cost of the NSPCC’s entry to Pride events as well as the NSPCC and Childline Pride t-shirts and banners to ensure there is a powerful presence at each event. 

Lidl GB has been partnered with the NSPCC for over 7 years and is currently supporting young people with their mental health by raising money for Childline. It has raised over £9 million for the NSPCC to date.

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