Whilst we often find ourselves talking about all the harm and danger you can find online it is important to recognise that it can be a wonderful and powerful tool for many people.
During Pride Month, where we celebrate the brilliance and beauty of the queer community, it is important to recognise all the different experiences that those within the LGBTQ+ world have online.
Digital communities have opened new doors for LGBTQ+ youth to connect with like-minded individuals and embrace their identities. Below we look at some of the ways that the internet can play a positive part in the life of LGBTQ+ youth.
It is important to remember that the LGBTQ+ community is a large diverse group that will have varied and complex experiences with our shared digital spaces.
A Sense of Belonging:
It can often be hard for LGBTQ+ youth to find acceptance and understanding in the offline worlds and families they live in. However, the online world is so vast and all-encompassing that LGBTQ+ youth can often find groups that offer a sense of belonging and connection that they might not feel in the offline world.
According to a 2020 Stonewall report, 90% of LGBTQ+ young people say they can be themselves online, and 95% of LGBTQ+ young people say the internet has helped them find positive role models. In this regard, digital platforms provide spaces where they can freely express their thoughts, emotions, and questions, and receive support from others who have experienced similar challenges. Being part of an LGBTQ+ online community can create a profound sense of belonging.
‘Being on the internet has allowed me to be myself completely, unlike in real life. At school I feel like I’m not myself at all, but on the internet I have many friends and they’re all supportive.’ Courtney, 15, secondary school (Scotland)
Support and Validation:
Discovering an LGBTQ+ online community or information provider can provide invaluable support and validation for young individuals questioning their identity or struggling with acceptance. Online platforms offer a wealth of resources, including discussion forums, helplines, and mental health support groups specifically tailored to their needs, all this can help LGBTQ+ youth feel validated and understood.
Through the compassion and empathy shared within these communities, young individuals can gain the confidence to embrace their true selves.
Empowerment and Activism:
The internet has become a brilliant catalyst for LGBTQ+ youth empowerment and activism worldwide. Online communities can inspire young individuals to become advocates for themselves and others.
Through the exchange of knowledge, personal stories, and educational resources, these platforms equip youth with the tools they need to challenge societal norms and fight against discrimination. By finding strength in numbers, LGBTQ+ youth can create real change, raise awareness, and shape a more inclusive and accepting world.
Helpful websites for support, education and empowerment:
Everybody deserves to be safe, empowered and happy online regardless of their sexuality, or gender identity. We want to make sure all families, whatever they look like, understand how to protect their children and create healthy relationships with the online world. If you can, please do support us today to help us reach as many children as possible from all walks of life.