BT today announced its major sponsorship of the It Gets Better Australia group which works to help young Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) youth cope with harassment and discrimination relating to their sexuality.
BT Financial Group Chief Executive Officer, Brad Cooper, said the sponsorship was recognition that a great deal of work still needed to be done to ensure LGBTI equality in Australia.
“Adolescence is a difficult time and many grapple with issues to do with sexuality. It can be a particularly challenging for LGBTI youth, given the level of discrimination that still exists in our society today,” Mr Cooper said.
Mr Cooper said the statistics showing the impact of society’s behaviour towards these young people could not be argued with.
According to Federal Government and University of Adelaide statistics:
- Gay bullying statistics show gay and lesbian teens are more likely to commit suicide than other youths and about 30% of completed suicides were related to a sexual identity crisis
- LGBTI youths are five times more likely to miss school because they feel unsafe after being bullied due to their sexual orientation
- LGBTI youth are nearly three times as likely as their heterosexual peers to have been assaulted due to their sexual orientation
- 28% of LGBTI students feel forced to drop out of school altogether
- Possibly because of such abuses, LGBTI youth are more like than their heterosexual peers to use alcohol, drugs, engage in risky behaviour or run away from home
- The Federal Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs said despite the lack of systematic data kept in Australia there is substantive evidence that the LGBTI community are over-represented in homeless populations
Mr Cooper said that any time suicide, drug-taking or bullying could be prevented, it was a good outcome.
“These are our children we are talking about and we have a responsibility to support programs where people who have been through the same experiences, and have come out the other side, can talk to our kids in their own language.”
It Gets Better Australia is an official affiliate of the US based “It Gets Better Project”.
Jamison Parker, the CEO of It Gets Better Australia launched the movement in Australia to show young LGBTI people the levels of happiness, potential and positivity their lives can reach.
Mr Parker said: “The deal highlights the commitment BT has to the It Gets Better campaign in Australia and the importance of reducing the high rate of suicide of LGBTI youth in the country.”
“Bullying has touched everyone in their lifetime and I can relate, the fact is that self-harm and/or attempted suicide is between 3.5 and 14 times the rate in LGBTI youth; the average age of a first attempt at suicide in LGBTI youth is 16 years; and 74% of this abuse occurs in schools,” he said.
“I appreciate that these facts are very confronting but I am committed to making a change to these statistics – our programs will educate people about aggressive behaviour; how to recognise specific health issues; and will promote our activities to GPs and Health Services. We have other programs which are designed to remind teenagers in Australia’s LGBTI community that they are not alone – growing up isn’t easy and that it will get better.”
BT is committed to investing in a sustainable economic future for all Australians by helping our communities prepare for their best financial future.
LGBTI inclusion is an important stream of the organisation's Diversity and Flexibility strategy, and this sponsorship further demonstrates its commitment to LGBTI employees, customers and communities.
Media release (PDF 77KB)