5 things LGBTQ+ people with intellectual disabilities want everyone to know

This is an often overlooked group, described as ‘invisible’, or perhaps assumed not to exist at all.

There is no reliable data that captures the number of LGBTQ+ Australians with intellectual disabilities. But in 2020, Australia’s largest national survey of LGBTQ+ health and wellbeing found that more than a third (38.5%) of 6,835 respondents had a disability or disability. long-term health.

People with intellectual disabilities face additional barriers to community access and participation, which means their voice is often absent from LGBTQ+ events, government consultations and disability spaces.

We partnered with Inclusion Melbourne and Rainbow Rights & Advocacy, an advocacy group for LGBTQ+ people with intellectual disabilities to find out what matters to them and what they want others to know.

‘Include us’

We spoke with dozens of LGBTQ+ people with intellectual disabilities for hundreds of hours.

We did this work alongside peer researchers: LGBTQ+ people with intellectual disabilities who facilitated the online group and individual sessions and co-created the research resources.

We asked how LGBTQ+ people with intellectual disabilities could be better supported to – in the words of one person – “say who you are”, and compiled their feedback into key statements.

Then we asked each person if they agreed with each key statement. We are confident that our study (to be published later this year) is the first in the world to include only people with intellectual disabilities and to co-design all stages of the research.

Where too often people with intellectual disabilities are seen as those in need of education, our approach was the reverse. We asked for their advice to share with those who need to listen: policy makers, service providers, families and their supporters.

“What matters is hope, freedom and saying who you are”

Pride month is all about celebrating diversity. But we still have a long way to go.

The stigma surrounding intellectual disability and LGBTQ+ identities means that people may choose not to come out to the people or support services around them.

And when people come out, they’re not always recognized or believed. As one study participant told us:

They say [an intellectual disability means] you may not know you are a lesbian but i am in my body and i know who i am and i know i like girls.

Everyone we spoke to agreed that it was essential to respect their gender and sexuality as LGBTQ+ people with intellectual disabilities.

“We want to be respected”

People talked about things that resonated with us as queer scholars and reflected broader experiences of LGBTQ+ people.

This included negative mental health impacts following an increase in harassment and abuse during the Postal Marriage Equality Survey and continued anti-trans commentary and coverage.

The abuse extended into people’s homes, where paid support workers verbally assaulted them with homophobic slurs. A person in this situation told us:

[…] I haven’t felt safe for a long time [at home].

“We want good people around us who understand us”

After a long wait following initial community consultations, the National Disability Insurance Authority (NDIA – the body that operates the NDIS) released its LGBTIQA+ strategy in 2020. People we spoke to agreed that there was a need to improve organizational culture and attitudes across the NDIA, partners and vendors.

People told us that support workers need more training to understand their LGBTQ+ rights and identity, and provide support that meets the quality standards required of NDIS service providers. These claim that “that participant’s culture, diversity, values ​​and beliefs are identified and addressed with sensitivity.”

“I want to be part of the queer crowd – be who I am, on Country”

Research has previously indicated that the only place Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disabilities do not experience inequality is within their own communities.

The Indigenous LGBTQ+ people with developmental disabilities we spoke to told us that their spiritual connection and relationship to country is an essential part of who they are. One participant, who identifies as a First Nations trans lesbian, shared her experience:

They call me sister and all the rest, they don’t care if you’re trans gay or lesbian, it doesn’t matter what.

People spoke about their need to access information, which helped shape our work co-designing web resources for LGBTQ+ people with disabilities on blood donation, police interactions, their rights and Moreover.

Finally, we asked people what they would like to see in the future. One response was particularly poignant:

[…] being gay and free and without racism, being able to live in peace.


The authors thank our project partners Rainbow Rights & Advocacy and Inclusion Melbourne, as well as members of our advisory group. Special thanks to our colleague and chief investigator Cameron Bloomfield.Amie O’Shea, Lecturer, Disability & Inclusion, Deakin University and Diana Piantedosi, associate researcher, Deakin University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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