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Will Young: Nothing has been done about misappropriation of the word gay

Will Young said he has discussed the issue with two education ministers in recent years (Isabel Infantes/PA)
Will Young said he has discussed the issue with two education ministers in recent years (Isabel Infantes/PA)

Will Young has called for action over the “misappropriation of the word gay” in the classroom.

The singer, 39, said that he has discussed the issue with two education ministers in recent years, but “nothing has been done”.

He spoke following the publication of a report that found half of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender have experienced depression.

Young told Radio 4’s Today programme: “We have to look at the causes of mental health amongst LGBT people. It is because it’s still not tackled in schools.

“I’ve met two education ministers over the last five years.

“Nothing has been done about the misappropriation of the word gay, that used to mean happy. Now it means… that’s wrong, that’s disgusting.”

A survey of 5,000 LGBT people found that 52% had experienced depression in the last year.

And 61% said they had suffered anxiety, according to Stonewall.

The charity said that mental health problems were particularly concerning among transgender people, with 12% saying they had attempted to take their own life in the last year, compared with 2% of LGB people who are not trans.

Young told Today that there was a “climate of shame that LGBT people have to grow up in, where you’re constantly, consciously and subconsciously, been told and thinking, well I’m wrong, I’m defunct in some way.

“Of course that’s going to lead to low self-worth, low self-esteem, self disgust,” he said.

The former Pop Idol winner added: “It’s all about language. No-one is looking at the misappropriation of the word gay in the classroom.

“If you’re gay you might not have safety at home. If you don’t have safety at school you have nowhere, so you become isolated, the shame gets worse.

“It’s not taken seriously and the reason it’s not taken seriously is people still see it as a choice and it’s linked to sex and we don’t talk about sex in schools.  It’s not linked to love.”

Stonewall has called for better training for health and care staff, with specific guidance on how to meet the needs of LGBT patients.

Almost one in four (23%) said they had witnessed negative remarks about LGBT people from healthcare staff while accessing services.

“Simply being lesbian, gay, bi or trans shouldn’t mean you’re at higher risk of experiencing poorer mental health or should have to expect unequal treatment from healthcare services in Britain today.

“Unfortunately, this report shows that for many, it still does,” said Paul Twocock, Stonewall’s director of campaigns, policy and research.

“We need the UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments and the NHS to take action and ensure health service staff at all levels understand the needs of all LGBT people and how to support them.”

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