LGBT Youth Scotland Rural Report 2023

“I do get a few comments from some people who genuinely want to hurt me, and then also some things that are meant to be friendly banter, but aren’t perceived as such. It puts me in a position where I don’t want to attend staff nights out, etc. Being in a rural community means that I can easily be targeted by people at school, outside of school.”

A new report by LGBT Youth Scotland explores the issues being faced by rural based LGBTQ+ young people in Scotland. It was developed as part of the Life in Scotland for LGBT Young People research project, a nationwide survey of LGBTQ+ young people between the ages of 13 and 25. A total of 1,279 young people participated, making this the largest piece of research involving LGBTQ+ young people in Scotland to date. It is one of a series of thematic reports.

The experiences of LGBTQ+ young people are diverse and can vary depending on where you live. This is particularly evident for LGBTQ+ young people living in rural and remote areas across Scotland as we found that just 39% of participants based in rural areas believe that their local area is a good place for LGBTQ+ young people to live; this compares to 59% of non-rural-based participants. According to a recent report from the Scottish Government, rural Scotland accounts for 98% of the land mass of Scotland and 17% of the population are resident there (Scottish Government, 2021a). This means that a significant number of LGBTQ+ young people are likely to be living in rural and remote areas.

Unsurprisingly, the findings within this report indicate that homophobia, biphobia and transphobia are a core part of LGBTQ+ young people's lives in rural areas, and in particular the growing prevalence of transphobia within their lives was described by many participants. Overall, this report shows that many LGBTQ+ young people living in rural areas are worryingly isolated, and this is exacerbated by a lack of specialist services. The solutions to this are multifaceted.

Digital tools have been (and continue to be) a lifeline for many isolated LGBTQ+ young people, however it is also necessary to invest in delivery that brings young people physically together to reduce isolation and forge a sense of community.

The report concludes that LGBTQ+ young people deserve to flourish and thrive no matter where they live. To achieve this, decision makers and those delivering services should listen to the lived experiences of LGBTQ+ young people in rural areas and to local communities in order to co-create solutions.

Read the full report here