Gender and sexuality

Young people might define their sexuality in a variety of ways. As part of growing up, all young people will spend time exploring their identity and developing a sense of who they are. Whilst this can include things like what they want to do after school as a career or what hobbies they may have, this also includes thinking about who they are attracted to (their sexual orientation), how they feel about their gender (their gender identity), and the different ways they can express this.

Gender refers to the socially constructed characteristics of female and male. It varies from society to society and can be changed. While most people are born either male or female, they are taught norms and behaviours – including how they should interact with others of the same or opposite sex within households, communities and workplaces. When individuals or groups do not ‘fit’ established gender norms they often face stigma, bullying and can become isolated, all of which adversely affect mental health.

Gender dysphoria is a condition where the child or young person experiences discomfort or distress because there's a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity. It's sometimes known as gender identity disorder (GID) or transgenderism. For example, some people may have the anatomy of a man, but identify themselves as a woman, while others may feel they're not definitively either male or female.

Young people who are experiencing gender dysphoria are much more likely to have mental health problems than other young people, are more likely to self-harm and are also more likely to be on the Autistic Spectrum.

Some young people identify as LGBT+, which stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, and the plus that is usually included after the acronym encompasses a list of other identities that fall under this umbrella. The "+" aims to include those who identify as queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, demisexual, non-binary, gender fluid, pansexual, polyamorous and many more. 

Being LGBT+ can feel like an extra pressure for young people as their sexual orientation or gender identity may be different from many of their friends. LGBT+ children and young people often worry that those around them, at school and at home, will react negatively to who they are and often experience high levels of bullying in school. This can be very damaging and leave those children and young people feeling isolated and unable to access the support or information they need.

  • The Big Book of Blob Trees by Pip Wilson

Eresource icon.png e-Resources

Mermaids - Resources and information as a reference point for professionals supporting a gender non-conforming or transgender young person.

MindEd - MindEd is a free educational resource on children and young people's mental health for all adults.

Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) - Advice and guidance or professionals and downloadable resources for schools.

The Proud Trust - Free downloads for professionals including posters, guidance, research and resources to use in education (lesson plans etc).

Stonewall - A number of resources and training courses for teachers and education professionals.

Educate and Celebrate - Free downloadable classroom resources and posters to use to a variety of age groups.

Kooth - Free, safe and anonymous online support for young people, accredited counsellors for mental health needs.

Childline - Information and advice.

Youth Zone - Advice and support for children and young people.

Training icon (2).png Training 

Your Primary Mental Health Worker: Helen Capstick

Your Primary Mental Health Worker: Michelle Taylor

Your Primary Mental Health Workers: Liz Loftus, Joanne Collins (Wyre) and Lucy Fenucciu (Fylde).

Your Primary Mental Health Worker: Wendy Hart

Your Primary Mental Health Worker: Dawn Meakin

Your Primary Mental Health Workers: Helen Smith, Bethanne Bullion and Stephanie Rowe

Your Primary Mental Health Worker: Aliki Mavraki

Your Primary Mental Health Worker: Shamaila Iqbal

Your Primary Mental Health Workers: Annabel Nicholls and Chloe Powers

Help-advice-icon.png Further help or advice

If you cannot find the help or advice you are searching for or you need other support for a child or young person, please contact your local CAMHS team.

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