As June comes to a close, it is important that our conversations sparked by celebrating Pride Month continue - especially when you consider that Childline has delivered more than 5,000 counselling sessions about gender identity and sexuality since April last year, with a 29% increase in children specifically talking about coming out.
A 12-year-old girl recently told Childline: “I want to tell somebody that I'm gay but I just can't find the courage to… Some people really hate gay people and I'm scared of what will happen if I tell someone”.
This Pride Month we have worked hard to let children and young people know we are here for them and I want to thank all of our volunteers and supporters who have helped us, despite the obstacles thrown up by the pandemic.
Matalan shoppers have been buying tote bags in aid of the charity, for example. Pride Month continues to be a catalyst for us all to have open conversations and challenge prejudices.
I know many of us will have been talking with our children about respecting people’s choices for instance, but we know these can be challenging conversations.
Arguably more-so when you consider how tough the past year has been for many children and young people, including dealing with local lockdowns, disruption to school and being separated from family and friends.
However, some children and young people who contacted our Childline service described the periods of lockdown as a time of reflection and a chance to take stock, while others spoke of finding confidence during this time to come out to their friends and family.
We also heard from children worried about the reaction they would get from other people if they opened up about their sexuality or gender identity, so it is vital that children and young people know where they can access help and support. Childline is here for them - they can speak to a trained counsellor over the phone, via email or on a 1-2-1 chat via the Childline website. For parents and carers, please bear in mind that the NSPCC website has lots of information for you too, on how to talk to children about their sexuality and advice on how to keep them safe.