It’s OK to be different

Adolescence is a time when you are discovering who you are; your likes and dislikes, this includes your sexuality.  Some teenagers realise they are heterosexual, others begin to identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).

Research by Stonewall, the lesbian, gay and bisexual charity, found most young people discover they are lesbian, gay or bisexual at about 12 or 13 but do not share this with others until they are 16 or older. Trying to make sense of what this means to you and your identity may be confusing, and you may be confronted by prejudice and bullying.  Young People who are LGBT can feel under pressure to ‘come out’ about their sexuality because unless you say otherwise other people assume you’re heterosexual.

It is important to be able to be comfortable in your own skin.  Feeling different can lead you to have low self-esteem, it can knock your confidence; you may feel isolated and alone, this can make some young people feel depressed.  Dealing with difficult feelings can lead some young people to self-harm or even try to end their own life.  Gay and lesbian young people are four times as likely to attempt suicide than their class mates.

If you are struggling with feelings and issues that are impacting on your mental health it is important to be able to talk these over.  It may be that you choose to discuss these with a trusted adult: this could be a teacher, school nurse, GP, school mentor or CAMHS worker.  Stonewall has a support and information line that can put you in touch with local youth groups too. You can also contact Childline on: 08001111

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