Lack of training is an obstacle for professionals to deal with LGBTI + children

in News · 06-07-2020 14:00:00 · 0 Comments

A study has concluded that the lack of confidence in services and the lack of specific training are the main obstacles for professionals in the field of gender self-determination of children and young people in Portugal.

"The lack of confidence in services and the lack of specific training are the main obstacles experienced by most professionals working in the field of gender self-determination of children and young people in Portugal", according to the first results of an investigation conducted by a team of the Centre for Social Studies (CES) of the University of Coimbra (UC).

The research is carried out under the project “Diversity and Childhood (DaC): transforming attitudes towards gender diversity in childhood in the European context”, which brings together in consortium 30 scientists from nine European countries, says the UC, in a note sent to Lusa agency.

The project aims to “diagnose and intervene to combat discrimination” that affects LGBTI + children and young people (acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and other orientations) in five areas: school, health, media, public spaces and support institutions children and families.

“It is evident the lack of resources, especially training and information, by professionals involved in the implementation of the Self-Determination Law [Law 38/2018, regulated in 2019], which creates obstacles to the equal treatment of this population in areas such as education, health, family intervention, media and public and community space”, says Ana Cristina Santos, coordinator of the Portuguese team.

According to the preliminary results of the study, a fact “that should make us reflect is the total absence of LGBTI+ issues in the academic and curricular training of most of these professionals”, highlights, quoted by UC, the CES's principal investigator.

“More than half” of those professionals admit “never having, afterwards, updated their knowledge or specific training for working with LGBTI+ children and young people”, he stresses.

The study was the first European survey to focus on gender diversity in childhood.

"It becomes clear the need for training in sexual and gender diversity aimed at professionals in all areas", sustains the researcher.

Indeed, “among the factors that most hinder the intervention, the lack of training to work specifically with LGBTI+ children and young people (81.2 percent), the lack of knowledge about affirmative practices / LGBTI+ resources (78.3 percent), the lack of knowledge on the part of the technicians about the services available (69.8 percent) and LGBTI+ issues in general (66.7 percent), and the lack of services for LGBTI+ children (60.9 percent)”.

In fact, “40 percent of the professionals who answered the survey are unaware of the existence of any local, regional or national service aimed at LGBTI+ children and young people”.

Looking at the education sector, the study indicates that 73 percent of the surveyed professionals report never having received any training that would allow them to support an LGBTI+ student in a school environment.

"Equally alarming will be the fact that more than half of these professionals reveal that they do not have access to specific resources or policies for LGBTI+ children in the institution where they work", to "guarantee a comprehensive and adequate intervention", underlines the researcher.

In the health area, the most worrying conclusion, according to Ana Cristina Santos, is related to the lack of confidence in the services: three quarters of the health professionals who participated in the study “consider that the greatest difficulty that LGBTI+ children and young people face in access to health care is the lack of confidence in services”, he adds.

"Therefore, it is urgent to implement measures focused on the patient, which allow working with proximity and a relationship of trust, so that LGBTI+ children and young people understand the doctor's office as a safe, inclusive and violence-free space", he maintains.

In view of the results obtained in this investigation, the CES expert warns that there is still a way to go with regard to “the creation and promotion of safe spaces for LGBTI+ children, hence the success of the Law on Gender Self-Determination depends on the implementation of LGBTI+ action plans in the institutions, in order to support an effective intervention with these children and young people”.

Started in 2019, the “Diversity and Childhood” project is funded by the European Commission until 2021.

In addition to Cristina Santos, the team in Portugal is made up of Mafalda Esteves (co-coordinator) and Alexandra Santos, and has the support of the Ministry of Education and the Association of LGBTI young people and Exaequo Network supporters.


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