When we think about what it was like for us growing up LGBTQ+, many of us say we needed more visibility and representation, right? But being visible is often a privilege that not all of us have.
You might not be out at work or uni or to all of your family, or you might just not have quite figured out how you identify and need to take your time. That doesn’t mean that you can’t help improve the lives of LGBTQ+ young people growing up today.
In 2021, LGBTQ+ school pupils are twice as likely to be bullied and contemplate suicide. In the past year, LGBTQ+ teenagers have been twice as likely to be lonely on a daily basis and 91% have heard negative language about LGBT+ people. Schools are not yet the safe and welcoming places they should be for LGBTQ+ youth.
To help change this, Just Like Us’ amazing volunteer ambassadors speak in schools about being LGBTQ+ to help stop bullying and improve allyship. They bring that much-needed representation to pupils who are often terrified, lonely or have just never knowingly met someone LGBTQ+ before.
We train our ambassadors, who are LGBTQ+ 18 to 25 year olds, to give these school talks, sharing their experiences of growing up and living life as LGBTQ+ people so that the next generation can see that people just like us exist.
The good news? You don’t have to be fully out nor fully sure of which exact LGBTQ+ identity feels right for you yet. Our ambassadors are an incredible community of LGBTQ+ volunteers from all walks of life and we prioritise putting your safety first so that you do not have to come out to anyone beyond the classroom for that powerful school talk that will change lives.
In fact, if you haven’t yet pinned down your gender identity or sexual orientation, or not everybody in your life knows, your experience actually chimes with a lot of young people in schools making you a very relatable role model. Giving a voice to those experiences shows young people that it’s absolutely fine to be you, at every stage and in every circumstance of being you.
If this describes you, and you’re LGBTQ+, 18 to 25 years old and living in the UK, please consider volunteering as a Just Like Us ambassador. We need you, and we want to make it easier for you to create the kinds of visibility and acceptance that you might have needed growing up.
No matter who you are, how out you are or which stage you’re at in figuring out labels and identities, you have a unique ability to change the lives of LGBTQ+ teens facing horrific bullying and living in fear about being LGBTQ+.
In fact, 17% of last year’s Just Like Us ambassadors were out to none of their family or just one relative – and they still changed pupils’ lives for the better.
When ambassadors give school talks, they see first-hand the life-changing, positive impact they have on LGBTQ+ young people who otherwise may have taken years to find acceptance and hear that it’s OK to be themselves.
If you’re not fully out, you’ll:
Agree to a code of conduct not to share other volunteers’ details – and so will others to protect you
Have options to train from home, or in other venues
Choose the schools you volunteer in, including schools outside of your hometown
Never have your name or images used publicly, unless we have your written consent
And if your understanding of your LGBTQ+ identity is changing:
You don’t need to be sure about it to volunteer here
You can continue to change your names and pronouns whilst you’re with us
We help you to put your valuable experiences into words so you can share them in schools
Our community is a wonderful coalition of LGBTQ+ people who support and celebrate one another on top of our work in schools. Ambassadors have tried new names and pronouns for the first time here, come out with new identities whilst here and spoken to hundreds of young people whilst keeping their identities protected.
If you have any questions or concerns about how protected or respected you’ll be as a Just Like Us ambassador, you can get in touch with Just Like Us even before joining. We can’t wait to hear from you!
Sign up to volunteer with Just Like Us as an ambassador and help change the lives of LGBTQ+ teens who are struggling with being LGBTQ+.