A majority of young people (84%) would support a friend if they came out as transgender, and more than half (54%) said they already have a friend who identifies as part of the community.
According to a new study, young people also consider themselves to be more supportive of trans people than their teachers, as only 76% think their teachers would be supportive of a student coming out as trans at school.
Of the LGBTQ+ young people surveyed, 96% said they would l support a friend if they came out as trans, compared to 76% of non-LGBTQ+ young people.
Commissioned by Just Like Us, the charity for LGBTQ+ young people, the independent research surveyed 2,934 secondary school pupils (including 1,140 LGBTQ+ young people) ages 11 to 18 across 375 schools and colleges.
The data forms part of a larger report into inclusive education and the experiences of young queer pupils, which will be published by Just Like Us in June 2021.
The charity also asked secondary school students to explain why they are so supportive of trans people.
One young lesbian from the East Midlands said: “It’s not my business how they identify, and I’ve seen previous friends dealing with transphobia and now want to support others so the same thing doesn’t happen as much.”
Another pupil from East Midlands, who is not LGBTQ+, said: “Because I don’t think it really makes a difference they’re still the same as they were before just more honest.”
A straight student in the North East also explained: “Being transgender isn’t really a choice. If we are close friends then we are close friends for a reason and them being trans wouldn’t change that.
“It would have no negative impact on my life so there is no reason for me to not be as supportive as possible and make them feel comfortable.”
Another pupil in the North West said they would “fully support” their friend if they came out as trans, because they are “embracing how they feel and who they are which is something to be celebrated”.
Dominic Arnall, Chief Executive at Just Like Us, has called for schools across the country to ensure that their trans students are as welcomed as their cisgender peers.
“We are really glad that, with this independent research, we are able to shine a light on the opinions of young people themselves and how supportive they are of their trans peers,” said Arnall.
“Secondary school age young people are clearly incredibly supportive of trans people and would have no problem with a friend coming out as trans.
“We hope that this is positive motivation for parents, schools and the media at large to embrace trans and all LGBT+ young people and accept them for who they are.”
Arnall noted that there’s been an increase in “tensions and hostility” towards young trans people in recent years, but this research has proved that the majority of young cisgender students are allies of the community.
“Just Like Us is always here to support teachers with making their schools safer and happier places for LGBT+ young people, and it’s clear that the majority of all young people – regardless of who they are – really welcome this,” continued Arnall.
“Just Like Us, the LGBT+ young people’s charity runs School Diversity Week every year, taking place 21-25 June.
“It’s happening both online and in person this year – primary schools, secondary schools and colleges can access their free resources, lesson plans and online masterclasses by signing up for free at www.justlikeus.org.”
For more information about Just Like Us and their incredible work supporting LGBTQ+ youth, visit their website.