Fighting against social and systemic injustice underlines our mission at Drive Forward of enabling care-experienced young people to fulfill their full potential in sustainable and fulfilling employment. When we started our work 10 years ago, it has been clear early on that ‘care experience’ is a broad and dynamic field of multiple barriers, challenges, disadvantage, an array of emotions, different pathways, but also opportunities, achievements, and resilience. Care experience is just one part of an individual’s identity; it’s an intersectional experience that spans across race, religion, gender, class, and sexuality. Care-experienced LGBTQ+ young people are particularly prone to facing stigma from family, friends and professionals, making it even harder to ‘come out’ in care.
Even without having spent time in statutory care, members of the LGBTQ+ community are still experiencing inequality in the workplace. Inadequate pay and exploitation have intersectional links with class, race, sexuality and gender. Although legislation exists in the UK, in the form of the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations Act which offers protection against discrimination under the law, it is a sad fact that sexual orientation discrimination is still rife in many sectors. In 2017, the UK National LGBT Survey Summary report by the UK Government Equalities Office, found that twenty-three percent of the 108,000 LGBTQ+ report participants had experienced a negative or mixed reaction from others in the workplace due to being LGBT, or being thought to be LGBT. Eleven percent had experienced someone disclosing that they were LGBT without their permission, 11% had experienced unspecified inappropriate comments or conduct, and 9% had received verbal harassment, insults or other hurtful comments. Suffering from this kind of discrimination can leave employees who identify as LGBTQ+ feeling isolated and potentially cause increased levels of stress. This feeds into the NIESR report which cites a range of studies pointing to a higher prevalence of mental health issues amongst LGBTQ+ people when compared to rest of the UK population.
It is clear that companies and industry bodies need to do much more to make ALL of their employees feel more secure, safe and valued as individuals. Active steps they can take to promote diversity within their organisations include increasing resources such as support groups or gender neutral restrooms for LGBTQ+ workers, providing diversity training to promote awareness and acceptance with regard to sexual orientation, creating policies to safeguard their workers, and encouraging all employees to create a more inclusive environment. They can also increase of pay to workers in lower paid sectors so that they can avoid poverty, horrendous hours, poor wellbeing, and a sense of isolation. Poor pay is a huge part of exploitation and a trap into poverty for many minority groups.
Useful links and resources
Discrimination and bullying because of sexual orientation: an introduction
It is unlawful to treat a person unfavourably at work because of sexual orientation. Sexual orientation is attraction to people of the same sex (lesbian or gay), the opposite sex (heterosexual or straight) or people of either sex (bisexual).
The law protects everyone, but it is lesbian, gay and bisexual workers who are most likely to face this type of prejudice and discrimination.
Gendered Intelligence (GI) is a trans-led charity working across the UK. We were originally a Community Interest Company, established in 2008.
Our mission is to increase understandings of gender diversity.
Our vision is of a world where people are no longer constrained by narrow perceptions and expectations of gender, and where diverse gender expressions are visible and valued.
We work with the trans community and those who impact on trans lives; we particularly specialise in supporting young trans people aged 8-25.
Discrimination because of sexual orientation is when you are treated unfairly because of your sexual orientation. Sexual orientation is also known as sexuality.
We’re here to let all lesbian, gay, bi and trans people, here and abroad, know they’re not alone.
We believe we’re stronger united, so we partner with organisations that help us create real change for the better. We have laid deep foundations across Britain – in some of our greatest institutions – so our communities can continue to find ways to flourish, and individuals can reach their full potential. We’re here to support those who can’t yet be themselves.
But our work is not finished yet. Not until everyone feels free to be who they are, wherever they are.
We are fully committed to the genuine acceptance of difference, and of the right for everyone to be who they are and who they wish to be.
We pioneer excellence on behalf of LGBTQ+ care experienced young people and strive to develop an ethos of tolerance, understanding and inclusive practice across all agencies working with looked after children and care leavers nationwide.
The LGBTQ+ youth in care network is a group of LGBTQ+ care leavers, local authorities, care organisations, residential care providers, independent fostering agencies, supported accommodation providers and any other organisation providing support for LGBTQ+ young people in care and care leavers that strive to make their services fully inclusive to LGBTQ+ people. We are passionate about inclusion and firmly believe that all children and young people who identify as LGBTQ+ should be able to access the same care and resources as everyone else in a safe way without prejudice or feelings of rejection.