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Our biggest hope as parents is that our children will grow up happy. That they are happy, healthy, confident individuals who aren’t afraid to be themselves and discover the world around them. That’s certainly the case for me since I became a parent last year.

So why then do so many parents make the damaging assumption that their children will be heterosexual and cisgender? And why do some parents – albeit a minority – think that talking about LGBTQIA+ inclusion in school isn’t completely vital to children’s happiness?

Let’s look at the evidence. 

LGBTQIA+ children are twice as likely to face depression and experience suicidal thoughts during their childhood. This isn’t because they’re LGBTQIA+, of course, but a result of the environments they grow up in. 

The evidence also shows that LGBTQIA+ inclusion in schools actually benefits all pupils, including those who are not LGBTQIA+. LGBTQIA+ inclusive education, which can be as simple as saying “LGBTQIA+ people exist” and “some people have two mums or two dads”, makes young people happier. In fact, independent research by Just Like Us found that all pupils who learn about LGBTQIA+ topics are less likely to face depression and, even, less likely to have suicidal thoughts. That’s why the charity runs School Diversity Week, a celebration of LGBTQIA+ inclusion in schools, every year.

While we know the majority of parents are already supportive of LGBTQIA+ inclusive education in schools, there are some who are reluctant to get on board, even with something that can actually make their children happier. 

Unsurprisingly, this refusal often stems from an increasing climate of fear. 

In the past few years, the UK media has fallen into a dystopian frenzy and politicians have tied themselves in knots over a fabricated culture war that’s “anti-woke” and anti-trans, all while turning a blind eye to austerity, crumbling school buildings, climate change, an NHS close to breaking point, and more. 

This obsession with stopping LGBTQIA+ young people from having their voices heard and living their lives freely, safely and happily has even gone so far as to become a point-scoring battle in the run up to the election. Trans young people have never been spoken about so much by politicians, but most of the rhetoric is negative, punitive and rarely constructive.

Many of these politicians and media personalities will be parents themselves, and I can’t help but see the contrast between our collective desire for our own children to be happy, and the obsessive fear mongering towards LGBTQIA+ young people, particularly those who are trans and gender diverse. When did we decide as a society that some young people weren’t worth listening to, and shouldn’t be allowed to be free to be themselves?

Is it any wonder then that the UK has recently been ranked as the second most miserable country in the world? Our children are now part of a generation that’s facing increasing anti-LGBTQIA+ hate crime, debates over trans people’s existence, poorer mental health, and worsening austerity.

So what can we do about it? We can start by not buying into the fearmongering, stop making assumptions about our young people, and encourage schools to talk about and celebrate LGBTQIA+ inclusion because it makes our children happier – including those who are growing up in LGBTQIA+ families.

Parents often make the mistake of assuming their child won’t be LGBTQIA+. This creates a difficult climate for that young person to grow up in – they see that there is a default expectation and they grow to realise that they don’t fit it. Even if their parents aren’t homophobic or anti-trans, they’re still living with family who by default are expecting them to be something they’re not. Something they simply can’t, and shouldn’t have to, change about themselves.

It’s no wonder then, that a third (31%) of LGBTQIA+ young people are ‘not confident’ that their parents will accept them, and almost half (46%) become estranged from at least one family member in early adulthood.

This International Day of Happiness, let’s set aside the assumptions about who our children might grow up to be and start encouraging LGBTQIA+ inclusive discussions in schools and at home. Our children – no matter how they identify – will be happier for it.

Just Like Us is the LGBTQIA+ young people’s charity and runs School Diversity Week every June.