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LGBT Young People

Volume 608: debated on Thursday 14 April 2016

8. What steps she is taking to ensure that support and advice is provided to LGBT young people. (904449)

We want every young person, regardless of their sexual orientation, to reach their full potential. That is why in March I announced a further £1 million fund to support schools to address homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying, in addition to the £2 million fund I announced in October 2014.

With Stonewall research showing that 55% of young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people experience bullying, I am pleased to hear that the Government are spending extra money, but what else will they be doing to ensure that those issues are covered in the curriculum as well?

The hon. Gentleman is right to mention the 55% figure. That is, of course, a drop from 65% in 2007, but we cannot in any way be complacent. In 2012, 96% of LGBT pupils reported hearing homophobic language in school. The PSHE Association published some excellent new guidance in October 2014 on diversity and relationships in its programme of study, as well as providing support to help teachers to tackle issues around bullying. Of course, having good personal, social, health and economics education and relationships advice, including material targeted at LGBT pupils and all their colleagues, is very important.

Albert Kennedy Trust research has identified that 24% of the homeless youth population are LGBT. That is a disturbing figure, and the Government are planning to cut housing benefit for people under the age of 21. Does the Secretary of State think that the situation is going to get worse or better for those young people?

As the hon. Gentleman will know, we gave just over £48,000 to the Albert Kennedy Trust in 2014-15 to develop national online mentoring services. We have also protected homelessness prevention funding for local authorities, totalling £315 million by the end of this Parliament.

Trans young people experience unacceptable and unlawful discrimination. Three months ago, the Women and Equalities Committee published a groundbreaking report outlining more than 30 recommendations to improve the lives of trans people. When can we expect a response from the Government?

I had the pleasure last week of visiting the Young Transgender Centre of Excellence, which has just been opened by the LGBT Centre in Leicester, funded by BBC Children in Need. My right hon. Friend is absolutely right to mention the groundbreaking report published by the Committee that she chairs. She also mentioned the 30 recommendations, which we are working through. I am sure that, like me, she wants us to make sure that when we respond, we do so in a full and open way. The report calls for significant changes to the law, complex changes to the NHS and changes to the policies and practices of more than a dozen public bodies, and I want to make sure that we get the response right.

This Government, and the Prime Minister in particular, have done great things for equality for LGBT people, particularly with regard to gay marriage, but there is one area of terrible inequality—at least one. A promiscuous straight man can have sex with different women every night, and yet that man can give blood. A gay guy can be in a monogamous relationship, and yet he is completely forbidden to donate blood unless he is prepared to certify that he has been celibate for 12 months. That is medical and scientific nonsense. It is also unfair. When will it change?

My hon. Friend and I have discussed this matter, and he knows that I have also discussed it several times with the Under-Secretary of State for Health, my hon. Friend the hon. Member for Battersea (Jane Ellison). The Under-Secretary of State for Health, my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Ben Gummer), has also been listening to what my hon. Friend had to say.

We have lifted the lifetime ban on blood donation for men who have had sex with men. As my hon. Friend will know, the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs, which sets blood donation guidelines, has announced that it is reviewing the evidence and the policy. We expect to hear from it sooner rather than later.

Earlier this year, LGBT mental health charity PACE was forced to close, citing cuts to its local authority budget as a major factor. Given that PACE had previously identified that more than a third of LGBT young people had made at least one suicide attempt, does the Minister share my concerns about the level of mental health support currently available for LGBT people?

Members on both sides of the House will know of my long-standing interest in mental health issues for all young people, and of the priority that we give it in the Department for Education, which flows through to the priority we give it in the Government Equalities Office. In the financial year that has just ended, we provided £4.9 million to 17 voluntary and civil society projects delivering support to children and young people with mental health issues, including almost a quarter of a million pounds £250,000 to Metro Centre to establish a mental health service for LGBT young people and to those working with them across London and Kent. We are obviously looking at what we can do in this financial year to make sure that services will continue to be funded. Again, I will work with my colleagues in the Department of Health to make sure that people of all ages with mental health issues get the support they need.

Order. You should start by just saying, “Question 11”. You can build up to your peroration ere long.