In the Media

LGBT police officers tell young gay people It Gets Better

PUBLISHED May 17, 2013

For the first time, a collective of 36 lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) police officers and police staff from 16 police forces across the UK tell their stories, providing a message of transformation, hope and encouragement to vulnerable young gay people that It Gets Better.

The School Report written in 2012 by lesbian, gay and bisexual equality charity Stonewall surveyed 1,600 gay young people, the key findings were:

• 55% of respondents had experienced homophobic bullying;

• 6% had received a death threat;

• 23% had tried to take their own life;

• 56% had deliberately self-harmed; and

• 37% of respondents said they never told anyone about what they had experienced.

Opening the It Gets Better video is Assistant Chief Constable Steph Morgan, the ACPO lead for LGBT issues, responsible for driving positive action at a national level within policing. She said: "Growing up as a young lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans person is often day-to-day struggle which can lead to low self-esteem, anxiety and suicidal feelings. The It Gets Better project exists to show young LGBT people the levels of happiness, potential, and positivity their lives will reach - if they can just make it through their teenage years.

"We want young LGBT people to know It Gets Better; they're not alone; and we're here to help."

It Gets Better is a global online campaign with over 50,000 user-generated YouTube video uploads of support letting young LGBT people know that they are not alone and that help is available. The campaign is supported in the UK by Stonewall, which has received messages support from Prime Minister David Cameron, global celebrities such as Katie Perry and prominent actors and media personalities such as Denise van Outen and BBC presenter Jane Hill.

Alice Ashworth, Stonewall Policy Officer said: "Initiatives such as this are a fantastic way for the Police to reach out to the lesbian, gay and bisexual people in their communities. Stonewall's research shows that far too often gay people don't report hate crimes or incidents. Videos like this show that the Police can successfully talk directly to gay people, giving them confidence that it does - and will - get better."

The video offers heartfelt messages of support and encouragement to young LGBT people who are struggling with their sexual identity or bullied for being "different." The 36 LGBT police officers tell their collective story about the challenge of growing up and living their lives as LGBT people. They state that suicide is not the answer, suggesting people seek the help of trusted people around them if they are being bullied, and to call the police if they are experiencing hate crime.

The College of Policing, which is responsible for driving standards across the police service, has also supported the development of the DVD.

College of Policing equality, diversity and human rights unit lead Everett Henry said: "It's important that policing has a voice within the LGBT community. As a reflection of society, the service has many members who identify themselves as LGBT. These individuals are key to developing an inclusive and effective police service contributing also to helping the wider service tackle homophobic hate crime and supporting staff and victims who come forward. This DVD will hopefully assist in further breaking down barriers in confidence and trust in policing through their willingness to share personal experiences and stories of being LGBT."

If young LGBT people are experiencing hate crime, they should contact their local police by dialling 101 or by reporting anonymously online at supported by the UK Gay Police Association.