You Are You: Your Space Initiative
It’s being widely reported on LGBT+ News sites this week that young people as young as 13 are using Grindr to find others like them instead of using the app is intended (for hookups)
This echoes something I’ve always felt, our LGBT Youth NEED somewhere to go to meet others like them, who understand what they might be going through, what they are feeling, everything. You can’t put a price on finding someone who relates to you over a professional counsellor or therapist. Think of how dangerous Grindr could be for a 14 year old who is struggling with his sexuality or gender identity or BOTH! You are putting yourself in such a vulnerable position and all because you have nowhere else to turn. That 14 year old was me. Pride wasn’t an option, it was too expensive and busy, I just wanted to find others like me, in my area but there wasn’t anything, my school was a faith school so there was no chance there, I just felt alone and turned to Grindr in hope of finding people. It didn’t work. Instead, I found myself being pressured to meet men much older than me to have sex, it was scary, I didn’t want sex, I wanted friends.
I started ‘You Are You’ as a Stonewall Young Campaigner to help oust gender stereotypes because let’s be real we don’t need them, but now I want to focus the movement on to youth inclusion by urging local youth services, schools and councils to make sure LGBT+ Youth have a place to go to. Grindr is not for teens and teens don’t want to have to turn to Grindr! As a matter of safeguarding this should be a priority! Especially in areas where there is NILL for LGBT+ kids. Where I live, the nearest youth group for LGBT+ youth is 2.5 hours away on a train. The Stonewall site even says ‘SORRY, THERE WERE NO RESULTS IN YOUR AREA…’. I did find one that is apparently local to me, but this group only has a phone number and I’m sure, like me, a lot of kids that need to access that service, don’t feel confident or comfortable in phoning up a random number to ask if they’re a gay youth group! Looking into it, this seems to be a trend with a lot of youth groups and my only thought is that it is a safeguarding thing. To prevent the service from being hijacked or invading by HBT (homophobic, biphobic, transphobic) thugs but that creates an issue in itself as teens (like me) who don’t feel they can phone the number have nowhere else to turn other than places like Grindr. In 2018 we should be safe to run a group without fear and if the only reason for keeping groups like this under the radar is because of that fear then the government need to step in! The only other reason I can think of for keeping the groups so lowkey is funding. Anyone reading this who has worked with LGBT+ Youth will understand the thought of turning a child away because of lack of funding is the most heartbreaking thing ever. If this is the reason for hiding these groups then we need more MONEY from somewhere!! I don’t know where but this is a problem and we need to start to tackle it before things get completely out of hand.
That’s why You Are You is now being dedicated to not only being the best BE YOURSELF Twitter account ever made but a log and advice Twitter to help young LGBT+ people find something in their area. Whether that is helping them to write an email or phoning the group on their behalf and inquiring about joining, we want to make it as easy as possible to access these groups! 🙂 – help us do this by spreading the word and following us!