Gay and lesbian youth are more likely to be out than ever before, and with support from family and friends.
However there has been an upwards trend in homophobic abuse while in an increasingly online world, bullying was taking new forms.
The trends were reported at the NSW Parliamentary forum into homophobic bullying on Monday, which provided a sneak peak into the 2010 Writing Themselves In report from La Trobe University’s Dr Lynne Hillier.
Dr Hillier told a packed audience there were good things and bad things to be taken from the updated research.
In 1998 the same report found one in five same-sex attracted youth had told no one about their sexuality, By 2004 five percent had told no one, and in 2010 that percentage had halved again.
There had also been a change in the way same-sex attracted youth viewed themselves.
“In 1998 we had just one person say that she thought that she could have a child,” Dr Hillier said. “That discourse that says if you’re same-sex attracted you’re going to be a lonely old man or woman has gone away … now they’re talking about having children and getting married.”
In 2004 young people still had to choose between their faith and their sexuality.
“This time young people are demanding to have their faith and their sexuality and although those young people … who are influenced by religious discourse still have worse outcomes than the rest, they’re now demanding their due,” Dr Hillier said.
More troubling was the rise in reported abuse. In 1998 only 44 percent had suffered verbal abuse because of their sexuality while in 2010 the figure jumped to 61 percent. In 2010 18 percent were assaulted because of their sexuality compared to 14 percent in 1998.
In 2010 80 percent of abuse was taking place in schools compared to 69 percent in 1998.
A theme throughout the forum was the need for bipartisan policies to tackle homophobic bullying. Forum organiser and Greens MLC Cate Faehrmann gave an undertaking to push for a united parliamentary approach.
“My work, hopefully over the next few years within this parliament, will be to work with other members of parliament from all sides of politics to shine a light on what is going on, and to see if we can get some movement on resourcing some of the fantastic programs that are happening in this state,” she said.
ACON CEO Nicholas Parkhill continued the theme.
“We will only be able to sustain long term change and a long term cultural shift if we operate from a bipartisan approach,” he said.
“We can’t get quick fix solutions or political expediency on this issue. We need ongoing commitments that are going to take us longer than political life cycles.”