Many LGBTIQ youth have express a heightened fear of hurtful public commentary.

A family support agency, Drummond Street Services, which provides counselling and support to LGBTIQ individuals and their families is experiencing a spike in calls from anxious and distressed youth.

Many individuals have expressed a heightened fear of hearing the next round of debates in the media surrounding LGBTIQ topics.

Karen Field, CEO of Drummond Street Services, said, “Since the plebiscite became a regular topic in the media, we have doubled our number of clinical cases. Young people are presenting in increasing numbers with anxiety, self-harming behaviours, and thoughts of suicide.”

She added that the current waiting list “extends for months” but staff often has to “dispense with the waiting list in order to respond to young people in immediate danger of self-harm or suicide.”

“When politicians weigh in to this debate, or when articles appear in the paper, we experience a spike in calls – as well as posts on our social media – from distressed young people and their worried families. And when there are attacks on the very structures created to support them, such as Safe Schools Coalition, it becomes very personal.”

Research from around the world and Drummond Street Services has found that individuals in the LGBTIQ community, especially youth, are a particularly vulnerable group. Individuals are at a greater risk on a range of health indicators, including mental health and physical health issues including diabetes and cancer. Research has also found that LGBTIQ individuals are less likely to seek help.

One parent said that the hurtful and public commentary about LGBTIQ youth “feels exactly as though my child is being bullied.”

Field said, “Young LGBTIQ people are listening to politicians and social commentators and it is causing immeasurable distress to them. Our leaders have a responsibility to these vulnerable young people and, like all adults, they need to think carefully about where their words land, and what damage they can do."