11 Oct An Introduction to Navigating Gender and Sexual Identity for Young People (and Those Who Care About Them)
Hey, there – welcome to the Back on Track Teens blog series for young people and those young at heart.
You’ve stumbled across a blog article that kicks off an exciting mini-series that discusses, explores and shares stories around gender and sexual identity. The mini-series shares ten wonderful and inspiring stories from young people who identify as LGBTQ+. The article you are reading now has been written to give you a bit of context around the collection of stories and resources available.
What is the Back on Track Teens gender and sexual identity mini-series?
The purpose of this Back on Track Teens mini-series is to give young people from the LGBTQ+ community a voice to tell their stories in their own words. The intention is also to help other young people who maybe be exploring or contemplating their gender and/or sexual identity or who may be facing challenges around these identities. The series offers a platform to access an authentic collection of resources, including:
- 10 personal story podcast interviews
- 11 blog articles repurposed from the podcast interviews
- Downloadable eBook
- Free online activities
- A glossary of terms relating to LGBTQ+ identities, experiences, and challenges
Back on Track Teens want to encourage conversations to take place between friends, families and work colleagues that give young people an opportunity to learn from those who have already embarked on their own journey of discovery.
Why have you created a mini-series around gender and sexual identity?
Talking about gender and sexual identity is the best way for people to better understand themselves and others. Every conversation around the subject is an opportunity to allow people who identify as LGBTQ+ to express themselves, seek support, or just learn about who they are. People who do not identify as LGBTQ+ have the chance to learn about an experience that deviates from their own (especially those of loved ones), connect with new ideas, and expand their own understanding of themselves and others.
For some people, this mini-series may be one of the first times they hear about the experiences of people who identify as LGBTQ+. While not always the case, ignorance (whether intentional or otherwise) can lead to discomfort and fear to even bring a topic up. We’re all learners when it comes to life, so this series is also for people who wish to explore a topic that could well be totally alien to them.
Unfortunately, sexual identity and gender identity are often bundled under the umbrella of ‘talking about sex’. This is despite the fact that some identities (such as asexual) are actually defined by their inability to experience sexual attraction! Sex and talking about sex are still taboo in many cultures and households and parents and caregivers may collate conversations about sexual identity and orientation with talking about sexual activity, which they feel uncomfortable with discussing.
While the national school curriculum has dedicated a very small amount of time to be spent on sex education (compared to other subjects), young people often find themselves, understandably, having many questions around gender and sexuality. This is mainly because ‘sex education’ often fails to cover much beyond the biological mechanics of heterosexual sex intended for reproduction. It’s no wonder kids still have questions!
For many years, the prevailing Anglo-centric, Western society has conditioned us to accept only binary gender identities (male or female) assigned at birth based on perceived biological sex. There are lots of reasons for and consequences of this prejudice, such as the systematic suppression of LGBTQ+ through legislation e.g. not legally recognising a non-binary person and allowing them the same right to live authentically and safely as a cisgender person.
Improving awareness and being curious about LGBTQ+ identities offer a chance for everyone to have open-minded conversations and for society to recognise diversity is a strength and something to aspire to.
Through creating this mini-series, Back on Track Teens want to champion activists, allies and young people from the LGBTQ+ community. We want to increase the representation and visibility of incredible people from across the big, beautiful spectrum of gender and sexual identities.
Who is the gender and sexual identity mini-series for?
The stories shared and resources gathered for the mini-series are for anybody who wants to learn more about LGBTQ+ identities and experiences. The truthful stories and practical activities are for young people to learn from those who have already embarked on their journey to explore their gender and sexual identity.
Are you questioning or contemplating your own sexual or gender identity? Are you a parent or caregiver whose child may have questions about their gender or sexual identity? Do you know someone who might be curious about what it all means? Do you just love to learn about the human experience? If so, this mini-series is a place for you.
Please know that you are not alone in questioning gender and sexual identity, although if you do feel that you are, that is completely valid. Others have walked this path before you, and whether you know it or not, there are likely to be people out there with life experiences that look similar to yours.
Questions and conversations are part of growing up, regardless of how you identify. It’s not just young people who are growing up either – adults are also on their own journey, and there are people out there who are realising something new and exciting about their gender and/or sexual identity at 80 and beyond. Life will always be full of questions and it’s OK that you (or anyone, really) has all the answers.
What will the gender and sexual identity blog posts cover?
Each article shares a story from a young person who identifies as LGBTQ+. A hyperlink is included in each article where you can click to listen to the full podcast interview.
The stories are honest accounts of each person’s journey of self-discovery around gender and sexual identity. They share the questions they had, the moments of euphoria they experienced when they realised who they were (and the low points, too), their coming out experiences, and how they were treated by others.
The open and honest discussions include topics around:
- LGBTQ+ representation and visibility
- Labels and pronouns
- Stereotypes and homophobia
- Sex education in schools
- Helpful resources
- Advice for parents
Each young person shares what advice they would give to their younger self now, after their experiences, alongside an abundance of resources for you to reach out to and learn more.
Load the next blog at the bottom of this page or access the stories and resources you feel you may relate to more closely by clicking the links below.
- Tayshan (she/her): a lesbian’s story
- Layton (he/they): a trans person’s story
- Bella (she/her): a bisexual person’s story
- Ryan (he/him): a gay person’s story
- Hannah (she/her): a gay, asexual person’s story
- Nathan (he/him): a pansexual person’s story
- Taz (She/her): a bisexual person’s story
- Tegan (she/her): a bisexual person’s story
- Carolyn (she/her): a lesbian’s story
- James (he/him): a gay person’s story
- Fflag: a parent’s story
- Download the eBook
- Review the glossary of terms relating to LGBTQ+ identities, experiences, and challenges.
Who are Back on Track Teens?
Back on Track Teens places young people at the core of its work. Struggling to come to terms with sexual and gender identity is significant part what challenges young people face, but there are other parts too. Back on Track Teens offers accessible support in many ways for children, tweens, teens and their parents and caregivers.
Societal, cultural, religious, and familial conditioning and childhood development can all contribute towards young people feeling unworthy, powerless, incapable, invisible and alienated. These types of self-limiting beliefs are more common than you might think. It is super important to be able to recognise the thoughts and ingrained teachings that are not serving you well, to question and, if it feels right to you, let them go. No child or young person deserves to experience fear, uncertainty or anxiety because the world they live in is not letting them be totally themselves.
Back on Track Teens runs the Ignition! programme, an international coaching system that supports young people, parents and those who work with young people to build resilience, confidence and kickass with self-limiting beliefs.
The Spark to Your Success podcast channel, blog series and books for teenagers provide real life stories, practical tools and online or face-to-face support. It’s to help people tackle challenges that affect mental and physical health so that you can live the life you deserve.
A word from TeeJay Dowe – founder of Back on Track Teens
“This project has been bubbling away at the back of my mind for many months. The subject of gender and sexual identity has such an impact on young people’s lives – their thoughts and feelings, and how they develop as incredible, unique individuals. We had the privilege of collaborating with many wonderful people from across the LGBTQ+ community, and with the support of my team, we created a mini-series that spoke on sexual and gender identity by uplifting the voices of those with lived experiences. I hope you enjoy reading, listening, learning and sharing.”
TeeJay Dowe is the creator of the Ignition! programme, founder of The Spark to Your Success CIC, CEO of Back on Track Teens and Momentum People, the Global Prosperity and Peace Initiative Ambassador for the UK, a STEM Ambassador and author of three best-selling books.
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