A recent dispute speculating in the media is about LGBT-exclusive places provided in the UK. A recently rejected proposal for an LGBT-only school in Manchester generated debate about whether it's appropriate for lesbian, gay, bi and trans students to be offered separate schools. Similarly, Birmingham University raised the issue that LGBT students should have the option to live in LGBT-only dormitories. These stories lead to some arguing that "Segregation will only lead to more victimisation", others said it's "a backwards move". For some of the 75,000 LGBT students who experience bullying each year, an exclusive, accepting environment could really suit them. But to me, it just seems that it is delaying issues until after leaving school.
So, what kind of environment is best for LGBT people?
I think that it's a place where lesbian, gay, bi and trans people feel safe, risk-free of physical or verbal abuse and most importantly, being fully accepted and integrated into society. Many people wish everywhere matched this description. Unfortunately, in reality, there are lots of communities, places and individuals in Britain that make LGBT people feel unsafe and certainly not accepted.
There seems to be a fine line between providing a safe space to resort to if needed, while not excluding LGBT people from the rest of society. We've seen both for and against arguments about this as of late. All organisations and the places should provide atmospheres where everyone feels able to be themselves, safe and not receive prejudice.
For many young people, self-identifying themselves in an unfriendly atmosphere swirls them into a state of disarray. Places for them to go, meet similar people and to feel comfortable are still massively important. In schools and universities, LGBT clubs and societies exist as a good network. If you are gay and don't enjoy going to gay clubs, it can be really hard to meet other gay people; surprisingly it's often far harder for lesbian, gay, bi and trans people to meet friends and partners as easily as straight people can!
Of course in some places, people feel under attack because of their sexuality or gender identity so they should rightfully be offered a safe-space. But surely, it shouldn't stop full progress being made to eliminate homophobia. To me, it seems like organisations are recognising that some LGBT people feel uncomfortable or at risk but aren't not digging to the root of the problem in stamping it out.
I don't want to live my life in an LGBT-bubble. I want to be surrounded in diverse spaces where people can be different and still be accepted, and that is where we need to focus our efforts. The focus should be made on making all work, community and social places completely welcoming to all minorities; not categorising and splitting us into different rooms.
A huge amount of progress being made in this country when it comes to LGBT laws, rights and acceptance. More people feeling confident and comfortable enough to 'come out'; showing that we are moving away from the necessity of LGBT-exclusive spaces because of inclusivity. However, for the recent rise in LGBT-exclusive spaces being provided in this country, it signifies the resonant issues that still exist here in Britain.
Click here to see how many times homophobic language has been used on Social Networking sites today.
For LGBT advice and help, contact Stonewall.