The Lesbian and Gay Foundation are on a mission to educate Greater Manchester’s future generation to ‘help them be better equipped for the wider world’.
The organisation was founded in 2000 after merging Healthy Gay Manchester and Manchester Lesbian and Gay Switchboard.
They have been visiting schools, colleges and University’s all over Greater Manchester, often focusing on health and wellbeing events, fresher’s fairs and nationally recognised events like International Coming Out Day and World AIDS Day.
Community Engagement Coordinator for the LGF Martin Cooper feels it is important to give young people the facts and let them make their own opinions.
“Unfortunately, in today’s society, there are still many things that affect the way the lesbian, gay, and bisexual people live, people who are questioning their sexual orientation,” he said.
“This can often lead to them feeling that they cannot achieve the same as their heterosexual counterparts and that has to change.”
LGF believe that people generally feel that it is important to educate from a younger age, which is why they are focusing on these types of outreach events.
Martin said: “Whether we are talking about good condom use, understanding of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections or homophobic hate crimes or abuse.
“People all recognise that we should be talking to young people and trying our best to normalise some of the issues and help them be better equipped for the wider world.”
The LGF are an adaptable organisation that also holds sessions at drop-in centers around the Manchester area.
“The way we shape our opinions on many issues in day to day life stems from what we have been taught as a young person,” Martin said.
“Giving young people the facts and allowing them to make their own decisions is important to help their personal development.”
It can sometimes be difficult to broach the subject of sex with young people but Martin says they are usually very receptive and open to the conversation.
“It’s something different from their day to day studies and something that they have often never discussed before, and more importantly it gives them the opportunity to ask the questions they’ve always wanted to ask but they’ve never been given the opportunity to before,” Martin said.
“We make it clear from the start that it’s a safe, non-judgmental and, if necessary, confidential environment and they can talk to us about whatever they like. “
The LGF said that ‘we should never underestimate the knowledge that a lot of younger people already have’ and admit that they even learn a thing or two from them.
It’s also a key time to dispel some of the common myths that are often taken as fact by young people, especially around sexual health and sexuality.
For more information visit the LGF website, or call their helpline between 10am-10pm every day on 08453 30 30 30.
Image courtesy of lgfonline, with thanks.