Home' LOTL : April 2004 Contents Whole generations of young gays and lesbians are
missing from our social records, existing only in secret
mags, banned novels and hate propaganda. This invisibility
meant that same sex attracted youth (SSAY) had little or no
influence on the way things were run in Australia -- such as
school curriculum, health care, or government assistance ...
One of the biggest breakthroughs in queer youth research
was the 1998 "Writing Themselves In" Research Project,
advertised via newspapers, magazines and Triple J. The sur vey
required youths to write about their personal experiences of
same sex attraction -- so that they were literally 'writing
themselves in' to the world today.
"Prior to 1998 it was almost impossible to obtain funding
for research with SSAY, and impossible to research in
schools," say Dr L ynn Hillier and Ms Alina Turner, of La
Trobe University. However, funding bodies have realised that
the SSAY research is not about morality but rights, safety and
the fact that all young people should be able to feel safe at
home and school. So that while there had been a silence on all
except the fact that we existed ("1 in 10" was about the only
statistic previous research efforts could offer), the 1998
research finally revealed some powerful facts about our
lifestyles, identities, and experience of abuse, dr ug use and
coming out. Facts that were used to inform policy makers,
encourage new curriculums in schools, and obtain grants for
social support groups.
"We learned from the 1998 project that SSAY were doing
it hard," says Dr Hillier. "Over half had been verbally or
I HAVE SOME FRIENDS WHO GET PISSED
OFF WHEN WELL-MEANING PEOPLE ASK
ABOUT THEIR SEXUALITY. THEY HATE "BEING
STUDIED LIKE A FREAKY SCIENCE PROJECT".
BUT WHAT THEY DON'T REALISE IS THAT
MOST PEOPLE HAVE NO IDEA ABOUT QUEER
KIDS. THEY HAVEN'T COME ACROSS ANY
MATERIAL ABOUT US. BY TIFFANY JONES.
WRITE YOUR RIGHTS
physically abused because of their sexuality -- mostly at school
by other students. Plus, there wasn't much access to relevant
safe sex information or visibility -- what visibility there was, was
negative. This had negative outcomes for these young people;
11% had injected drugs compared to 2% of heterosexual youth.
Many spoke about suicide attempts and feeling alienated."
Dr Hillier now feels it is time to renew the research and see
how life is going for the current wave of SSAY. "We're repeating
the research in 2004 because the data is a little old, and we want
to know whether the many positive changes that have happened
over the last seven years have filtered down to SSAY."
Frankly, I think it rocks the Casbar that someone is
checking up on us! I've read the papers previously written by
these researchers, and found out that 60% of those
inter viewed felt "great or pretty good" about their sexuality,
that 1 in 5 young queers have never talked about their
sexuality to anyone (other than the sur vey). And I read stories
like 'Nina's' -- a girl whose mum had also been in a same sex
relationship, which would have been lost in time if those
youths hadn't bothered to 'write themselves in'.
"We have over 600 sur veys already for the 2004 Writing
Themselves In Again," Dr Hillier says, "and we're hoping for
over 1000. This research will be used to change policies and
attitudes and to make the community a safer place for SSAY.
We promise confidentiality and are very aware young people
are entrusting us with their safety."
The researchers have expressed to me that they are
determined not to let young queers down with this project,
and I would even propose that it is WE who would be letting
ourselves down if we let fear prevent us from speaking out. It
is time our generation wrote ourselves in.
To fill out a sur vey visit www.latrobe.edu.au/ssay/
or ring toll free on 1800 678 811.
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