On 5th July 2022, young people had the opportunity to meet with decision makers in the region, and talk to them about their experiences and ideas to change things for the better.

This event was dedicated to growing up LGBTQ+ and the young people discussed the real issues impacting their lives.

We heard from young speakers aged 12-18 Jess, Adam, Chloe and James who shared their stories and urged the decision makers to make positive changes.

The main themes covered were:

Education – Jess shared their experience in the education system, highlighting the lack of adequate learning materials in classrooms and poor staff knowledge

Mental Health – Adam & Chloe explained the mental health struggles faced by young queer people 

Support – James shared his experience of being trans and the impact it had on relationships with others

The event was hosted by Dan and BSL was provided by Izzy, who are both members of our Youth Voice panel.

🎥 Watch the video…

After listening to the experiences shared, we would love to hear your own pledges – please share these on social media with #WeThe33

To help us monitor our impact, it would also be appreciated if you could complete our short post-event survey here.

Complete the Post-Event Survey 

Short on time? Check out the event highlights here.

Key Takeaways

One of the key takeaways was that a lack of knowledge and understanding in the education system combined with the inability to access appropriate support services, has had a huge impact on the mental health of young people in the LGBTQ+ community.

Whilst the young people acknowledged that there is some LGBTQ+ education offered in schools, they explained that it feels like a tick box exercise rather than providing meaningful learning experiences. They also advised that information provided is often inaccurate and that teachers look to them for clarity or correction rather than having the knowledge themselves. It was agreed that this is inadequate and damaging to the queer community.

The shortcomings of the education system feeds into a range of mental health issues including the impact of bullying, struggling with self-acceptance, the challenges of coming out and the lack of outside understanding around gender identity and expression. The young people requested better specialist support options outside of school settings to improve their wellbeing.

During the talks, Chloe encouraged the audience to consider ways to reduce damage to mental health:

“As an audience of mostly straight people and straight allies, I urge you to look at and learn from this piece [of art] and think about what can be done to avoid this negative effect on mental health.”

“We need to be listened to and respected as members of society, and as queer people, and this is non-negotiable.”

– Chloe

You can also read the table discussion summaries here.

Key Responder Feedback

Following our young speakers and discussions, we heard from two key responders who shared their thoughts and pledges.

Henry Chan is a Safeguarding lead at Bristol City Council. The discussions with young people gave him lots of ideas and he pledged to improve training for school staff by including specific LGBTQ+ issues within annual safeguarding training. He explained that the Department for Education has recently released statutory guidance for schools, which includes how schools should respond to LGBTQ+ issues. He also pledged to testing how effective training has been by increasing follow up with staff.

Cathy Bowstead was representing City of Bristol College – she remarked that she been upset by what she’d heard and now better understands how education and mental health are intrinsically linked. She pledged to make change within the college by listening more to the her students' experiences, creating advocates and offering better training, not just for staff but for students too. 


The influential listeners who attended made pledges based on what they learnt from the young people. Here are some examples:


I pledge to make schools safe spaces for LGBTQ+ young people by joining up the institutions that support them – health, family, youth, work, employment… - and building shared understanding. 


I pledge to create more time to listen to young people, not one off. 


I pledge to try to make space for other professionals to learn about LGBTQ+ needs, identities and experiences so they can improve their practice. 


I’m going to make sure I focus on empowering better representation of LGBT+ voices in my organisations and in the media.  

I’m going to guide/help my colleague more, whose kid just came out as non-binary. 


I pledge to: 

  • Increase awareness of experiences of LGBTQ+ communities 
  • Include in mandatory training for all staff (safeguarding) 
  • Hold all Bristol Education settings to their statutory duties (keeping children safe in education) 


Training and implementing to be able to fully support young people and challenging colleagues to encourage them to train and learn and listen. This can help our best practice for youth work. 


I pledge to improve children and families record systems so that they will reflect children’s identity and reduce misgendering and problematising LGBTQ+ identities. 


I will stand up for LGBTQ+ young people when they are facing discrimination. And keep voting against the tories. 


I pledge to consider the intersectionality that affects LGBTQ+ youth 😊 

What's your pledge?

Don’t forget to make your pledge through our post-event survey so we can add it to the list! 

Complete the post-event survey

Share your pledge to your preferred social channel with #WeThe33

How can we help?