LGBT Youth Scotland
LGBTI Young People and friends aged 13 – 18
An increasing number of secondary schools in Scotland now have Gender and Sexual Orientation Alliances – GSAs, within their school to support LGBTI pupils and help increase inclusion. As the national organisation supporting LGBTI young people in Scotland, and working with schools across the country, we recognised a chance to network GSAs, allowing young people within them to learn together and support each other to have their voices heard in communities across the country.
LGBT Youth Scotland has been providing a private online live chat support service since 2012. This service operates via our website and is often the first point of contact that young people have with our services. Young people living in areas where we run youth groups then have the option to attend a group and face to face support with a youth worker.
We recognised that young people who are either socially or geographically isolated weren’t able to engage with our groups or national projects. By developing a group chat function we could network GSAs in schools across the country allowing young people in these areas to connect with the wider young LGBTI school community.
We worked with young people in schools in the Lothian region to develop and test the project and will roll the project out to schools across Scotland in the 2018/19 school year.
Group sessions take place at pre-booked times and have planned activities led by our Digital Youth Work Team. Young people in GSAs are able to request to join a session in advance and are sent the link to the group chat page on our website. They are then able to chat to each other and our team while working on a digital mini-project such as creating posters for their GSA. All sessions aim to connect young people across the GSA groups, allow them to learn new digital skills using online tools and share their learning with each other.
Group chat sessions take place during, or at the end of the school day, depending on when the individual GSAs meet, and require access to computers with Wi-Fi connections. All of the digital tools used in sessions are free and easily accessible. The online chat is on our Ninchat platform.
Feedback from participants in our test groups has been positive with young people reporting that connecting with their peers from other schools has been a positive experience and the practical nature of the workshops has proved useful.
Group chats are evaluated by the group at the end of each session and an end of year survey will be carried out across all GSAs taking part.
As well as benefiting the young people in the groups the project has given our youth workers the chance to develop their own digital skills and work in a new way. Connecting GSAs across different schools in Scotland also benefits LGBT Youth Scotland by building stronger relationships with those schools, teachers and young people.