All young people, including those who are LGBTQ+ and those who are not, should be supported to browse the internet safely – there are inherent risks for all young people, and for LGBTQ+ young people, these can include exposure to inappropriate content or bad advice around exploring their sexual orientation and identity.
The internet is incredibly important for LGBTQ+ children and young people to connect with who they are and explore this side of their identity. As suggested, they are at no greater risk than any other children or young person when using the internet for browsing, but some of their browsing behaviour may expose them to potential risks that could be dangerous.
Alongside the obvious benefits that browsing the internet offers to all children and young people, there are some specific benefits that can help to empower
an LGBTQ+ child or young person, including:
As with any activity online, unsupervised and unrestricted browsing online does come with risks for any child or young person. However, for an LGBTQ+ child or young person, there are some specific issues that could arise including:
It is important to be aware that:
Giving children and young people the space to thrive online while managing potential risks they face can be more challenging as they become more active online. Other challenges include:
Opening the conversation on some of the potential areas of risk is important, in order to make sure you are both on the same page, but it is important to strike a balance between making them aware of the dangers without scaring them off using the internet to explore who they are.
Conversations to have:
Obviously, this might be an uncomfortable topic for you to approach with your child and one that should be tackled in an age-appropriate way. If your child is younger, this might not even be something that you feel is necessary to cover, but for teenagers, this is something they are much more likely to be exposed to. There are some things to consider when opening the conversation on this topic, including:
Fake news and bad advice
Fake news can be difficult for anyone to navigate, especially for minority groups. This is because they are often the subject of fake news, and it can leave them and those in their lives vulnerable to believing lies about themselves or their loved ones. Not only is fake news an issue, but there is a lot of useless or harmful advice on the internet that those who are not well educated in that particular area might decide to follow.
LGBTQ+ world issues
Even in 2020, there are still many places in the world that are not accepting of LGBTQ+ people, and often this finds its way into the headlines. Having an open discussion with your child about this is important in order to ensure they feel safe and are aware of measures they may need to take when interacting with people from different cultures. Key things to think about before having this conversation with them include:
Alongside other LGBTQ+ human rights issues around the world, conversion therapy is something that often makes headlines. Although it has been banned in a lot of countries (not in the UK), it is still practised in many countries and across many states in the US. Stonewall’s LGBT in Britain report on health found that one in twenty of LGBT people has been pressured to access services to question or change their sexual orientation when accessing healthcare services.
If your child comes across something that upsets them online, here are some important things to remember on how to deal with these issues:
See related advice and practical tips to support children online: