One of the ways that LGBT Youth Scotland is working to create a Scotland where all young people can flourish and thrive is through our LGBT Charter, an equalities accreditation programme designed to create more inclusive environments across a variety of contexts.
Hundreds of organisations have already participated in the 12-month process of collective reflection and development to refine and enhance their policies, processes and practices, making them as safe and inclusive as possible for staff and the people who use their services. Creating inclusive environments for LGBTQ+ young people is not a finite process that can be completed in a year, however; it is through continuous holistic introspection, evaluation and improvement that these changes become embedded across all levels of an organisation or learning environment.
Our friends at Committed to Ending Abuse (CEA) are testament to just that, having engaged with the LGBT Charter programme consistently across the last decade to continuously reflect and develop their practice. In their own words:
“CEA first embarked on its LGBT Youth Scotland Charter Mark journey in 2013 when the organization was still known as Falkirk & District Women’s Aid (since 1976) and was working towards its LGBT Youth Scotland Bronze Charter Mark Award. At that time, the organization had recently restructured and was proactively looking at ways in which it could ensure that support for those experiencing the trauma of domestic abuse was reaching women, children and young people within the local LGBT+ community. Having achieved the Bronze Award, the organization evolved again, moved premises and rebranded as Committed to Ending Abuse (CEA) in 2015 with the aim of also supporting male survivors of domestic abuse. Furthermore, we recognized that our services should be reaching out to people of all genders and sexual orientations, and we soon were able to provide this support, achieving our LGBT Youth Scotland Silver Charter Mark award in 2016.
However, the organization and its dedicated staff realized that there were improvements still to be made in how visible we were as a fully inclusive domestic abuse service. The obvious next step was to continue with our LGBT Youth Scotland Charter Mark journey so that we could get the message out to the public and partner agencies about how we welcome anyone regardless of age, sex, disability, beliefs, ethnicity, faith, gender, sexual orientation and race. Thus, in February 2022 CEA began working towards the Gold Charter Mark award.
“Many said that they felt supported and validated as LGBT+ people, some for the first time.”
Working together constructively as a staff team, with LGBTQ+ service users, partner agencies and members of the local LGBTQ+ community has shown us just how much can be achieved by listening, sharing ideas and putting those ideas into practice. A highlight for CEA was the visit to our office from members of our local LGBT Youth Scotland group, FK1nclude, in November 2022. We shared some of the work that we do in relation to domestic abuse and our staff learned so much about the experiences of the young people who visited, including some of the barriers that they have faced when trying to access support as members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Similarly, our prison-based team at HMPYOI Polmont ran an event to mark International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia on 17 May 2022. Not only was there some amazing artwork created by LGBT+ young people in custody, but their feedback on the event was just as powerful. Many said that they felt supported and validated as LGBT+ people, some for the first time. The event also opened up constructive conversations amongst the wider staff community there about CEA use of pronouns in email signatures and our prison team already have a date in their diary for similar events next year!”