Posted: 10 February 2020

Why Phillip Schofield and Jameela Jamil coming out is a great thing for young people

In the UK, we’re infamously tight-lipped when it comes to sexuality. The conversation is becoming more open, but we know from the young people we speak to that it's still not where it needs to be.

So it was really encouraging to see Jameela Jamil and Phillip Schofield – two hugely influential public figures - come out last week. Coming out is a really brave thing to do, and it sends a positive message that can really make a difference to the well-being of the young people hearing it.

How sexuality affects young people’s well-being

Our latest Good Childhood Report showed that children’s well-being is at its lowest since 2009. And unfortunately, we know from our research that children who are attracted to the same gender or all genders are more likely than their heterosexual peers to be unhappy with their lives, have depression, and self-harm. They often feel ‘different’ from others and experience homophobic comments from their classmates.

Young people tell us that the pressures of societal expectations are a huge factor in their happiness. Clearly the stereotypes and gender norms which young people encounter – and are perpetuated by some of their peers - are extremely harmful to their mental health.

'I feel as if people are being awkward and rejecting me because I’m lesbian' - Secondary school girl

Why we need positive representation

For young LGBT people to thrive and feel confident and optimistic about their future, they need to know that society accepts them for who they are. Positive, mainstream examples of queer representation are really important to get this message across. For people struggling with their sexuality, it can be really helpful to see a famous person come out – so thank you Jameela and Phil for your bravery and adding your voices to the ongoing conversation on sexuality.

Carrying on the conversation

But the conversation can’t stop there. If you’re a parent of a young person, it’s really important to create a positive environment where young people feel at ease and able to discuss their sexuality, if they want to.

'I felt like there wasn’t any way I could talk to my family'Louise, Campaign Champion

Read our advice on how you can do this:

If you’re a young person looking for advice on coming out, check out Stonewall’s guidance or read our advice on telling your parents about your sexuality. If you need mental health advice, visit our Resource Vault.

By Lauren Cain

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