Frequently Asked Questions
When the sexual identity of young people is explored there is evidence of even more fluidity across the three domains of identity, attraction and behaviour. In a study of 1200 rural young people in 1996 Hillier and her colleagues found 11% were not unequivocally heterosexual (Hillier et al., 1996). A larger study of 16 and 18 year olds in secondary schools across Australia in 1997 (Lindsay et al., 1997) found the numbers to be 8 - 9%, and a subsequent repeats of this study found similar numbers (Smith et al., 2003 & 2008).
It is impossible to estimate the number of gay and lesbian people in the community because of the difficulty of getting people to disclose in a society which is generally homophobic and discriminatory and because of the fluidity of all aspects of human sexuality. The Australian Study of Health and Relationships (Smith et al., 2003) which interviewed 20,000 people and is the largest study of this territory ever conducted in Australia, found that only 2% of the population identify as non-heterosexual. However, when a definition of sexuality which includes the three domains of identity, attraction and experience is used it found that up to 15% have experienced same sex attraction or have had had sexual contact with someone of the same sex (Smith et al., 2003).
Unfortunately we do not have data on exact numbers of this population as population based surveys (including the census) do not ask questions on sexuality or allow people to record transgender status. This is beginning to change but at the moment we have to use some of the methods outlined below to make a judgement on how many LGBT people we need to consider.
GLHV does not maintain a data base of gay friendly health care providers, although increasingly those who have done Rainbow Tick Accreditation will be able to advertise as reliably providing LGBTI inclusive services. You can find out more about the Rainbow Tick here: http://www.glhv.org.au/lgbti-inclusive-practice
We do not know how many transgender people there are in Victoria as any numbers will only be based on those seeking to use medical services for making a transition. Such data will always be an underestimate as many transgender people do not access services and are not open about their status because of the stigma and discrimination that may follow.
'Treating everybody the same' usually means that all people are treated as heterosexual and this can be alienating to LGBTI people in all sorts of ways. Research shows that not all people are the same. LGBTI people have different life experiences and health needs from their heterosexual peers.
Training will help staff appreciate these different needs and look at simple strategise to meet them.