Childline sees over 6,000 counselling sessions about gender and sexual identity

Thousands of young people turned to Childline last year for help with issues including coming out and homophobic bullying.

Young boy looking down at his hands

Childline carried out 6,014 counselling sessions with children and young people about issues relating to gender and sexuality last year - on average 16 a day1.

Childline figures from the past 12 months show:

  • 12 to 15-year-olds were the most common age group to contact Childline about gender and sexual identity
  • 409 of the counselling sessions were with 11-year-olds or younger
  • an approximately 80% increase in the number of views of its gender identity webpage in the last year2.

During Pride month, Childline is raising awareness of LGBTQ+ issues among young people. The service is reminding young people that they can get support from Childline by phone, email or online whenever they need it.


"I've been feeling depressed and suicidal for about 3 years. My parents don't understand me at all. I came out as trans and they think it’s just a phase and refuse to accept me."
Boy who contacted Childline

Coming out and homophobic bullying are key concerns for young people

Among counselling sessions about issues relating to gender and sexuality last year, Childline saw:

  • 2,110 counselling sessions about coming out, this is a 40% increase from the previous year3
  • 573 counselling sessions included reference to homophobic bullying.

Children as young as 11 who spoke to Childline about their gender or sexual identity spoke about experiences of bullying and issues with their mental or emotional health.

How to help a young person 

Parents can help their children who are coming to terms with trans or gender issues by:

    • asking gentle questions to start the conversation so that they don’t feel pressurised. See our tips on talking about difficult topics
    • listening to them and letting them know you’re not judging or blaming them
    • letting them know that there are support groups and medical professionals who they can talk to
    • giving them resources like Childline's advice on gender identity and sexual orientation or Young Stonewall's LGBTQ info.

If you're worried about a child

We're urging any adult who's worried about a child to contact the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000, or by emailing help@nspcc.org.uk.

Any child who's concerned can contact Childline for support.

Report a concern

Dame Esther Rantzen

Dame Esther Rantzen, President of Childline said:
“I've met young people who were desperately unhappy because they couldn’t talk to anyone about issues regarding their sexuality or gender, and often turn to Childline because they fear they'd lose their friends and be rejected by their families if they disclosed their feelings to them. I'm glad that they felt able to talk to Childline and reveal their feelings without being judged or stigmatised.

“I know that some adults feel uncomfortable talking about these issues with young people. But if we create a taboo around them, that can make children feel guilty, rejected and in some cases has even led to depression and even suicide. We all need to listen sensitively and support young people and protect them from this profound unhappiness and loneliness.”

Get support and advice

Childline

Childline is our free, confidential helpline for children and young people. Whenever children need us, Childline is there for them – online, on the phone, anytime.

0800 1111

Visit childline.org.uk

Call the NSPCC helpline

If you're worried about a child, even if you're unsure, contact our professional counsellors for help, advice and support.

Call us or email help@nspcc.org.uk.

0808 800 5000

Report a concern

*DISCLAIMER

All names and potentially identifying details have been changed to protect the identity of the child or young person. Quotes are created from real Childline contacts but are not necessarily direct quotes from the young person.


References

  1. Childline carried out 6,014 counselling sessions with children and young people about issues relating to gender and sexuality in 2018/19 - on average 16 every day. This is compared to 5,965 counselling sessions in 2017/18.

  2. The number of page views to the Childline webpage on gender identity increased by around 80% between 2017/18 and 2018/19, with over 12,000 page views in 2018/19.

  3. Within the 6,014 counselling sessions about gender and sexual identity carried out in 2018/19, one of the biggest increase in concerns was about coming out which rose from 1,508 (17/18 to 2,110 (18/19).