17 Jun 2019

Public commentary and potential effects on LGBTQI youth

17/06/2019 4:02:26 PM

newsGP speaks with an expert about the possibly damaging effects of negative comments from high-profile figures.

Man at microphone
Negative commentary from high-profile figures can impact people in a number of ways.

Former Australian rugby player Israel Folau spoke about transgender children and called homosexuality a sin over the weekend, leading to mass reporting of his comments.
The high-profile athlete made the comments during a sermon at his Sydney church, which was subsequently posted to its Facebook page.
Associate Professor Ruth McNair, a GP and LGBTQI health researcher, told newsGP that negative commentary from high-profile figures, and the associated public response, has the potential to impact people in a number of ways.
‘It’s not just LGBTQI kids, it’s also their families … [when] a public figure comes out like this with very negative comments. It’s a re-traumatisation every time it happens,’ she said.
‘Whether it’s positive or negative, they keep hearing it again and again … and then it just reiterates other negative comments they’ve heard before, either from public figures or people at school.
‘We know there’s a lot of bullying and homophobia, biphobia, transphobia – that’s alive and well in school, and that’s the main place where kids experience it.’
Young people with LGBTQI parents can also be impacted.
‘[They are] quite aware of the stigma and negative attitudes in the community and can be quite affected by it at times,’ Associate Professor McNair said.
‘[One response is to] shore up support around themselves, by getting a few friends together who are supportive and try to avoid the rest of their friendship group or people at school, which in some ways socially isolates them because they limit themselves to a very restricted number of friends.’
Associate Professor McNair said GPs can help in these situations, as many young people will look to their family doctor for advice or a social response. While acknowledging every case is different and that it is not always appropriate to discuss the issue without the patient raising it first, she said if GPs have previously had similar conversations it can help to raise it directly and enquire as to whether the recent situation has affected them.
‘If we’re very openly opposing that opinion and saying “no, that’s wrong” and calling it out, I think it is a very important process with our patients, whether or not they’ve been directly impacted,’ she said.
‘It’s not so much the person [making the comments] themselves, it’s about the impact locally.
‘[For example], if a parent supports Israel’s comments, that’s going to have a larger impact on the child than the comments themselves. Or if it comes up in class and a teacher doesn’t come down hard on it and say “that’s not appropriate”, there can be a ripple effect.’
Another approach, according to Associate Professor McNair, is to highlight recent positive news surrounding the LGBTQI community, as constant questioning or probing when these negative events happen can create a sense that GPs expect identifying as LGBTQI to be an adverse experience.
‘I think young people in particular aren’t fully aware,’ she said. ‘For example, marriage equality being such an important step in our society a couple of years ago, these things are useful to come back to and say it’s not all bad news.
‘In Australia, LGBTQI people are protected, we have anti-discrimination laws, so … it can be helpful for some people to raise that.
‘We have to be very careful with the way we raise the conversation, but not shy away from it, either.’

bullying LGBTQI health mental health

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Scott   18/06/2019 10:45:32 PM

This is political activism pretending to be healthcare. Young people have to be raised or taught resilience. We can’t expect young people to not be challenged in their beliefs or values. What kind of world are we coming to?

Johnny   21/06/2019 12:40:38 AM

Some great studies out of the USA show no evidence that increased rates of suicide in homosexuals and transsexuals has nothing to do with the society they live in. We should not use these arguments without evidence.