MORE than two-thirds of LGBT+ young people living in rural Scotland do not feel welcome in their local area, a new report has suggested.

The survey of 1300 people – dubbed the largest piece of research of its kind – also showed homophobia and transphobia were more prevalent in rural settings than urban.

The stark findings come as part of the latest instalment of a 15-year-long Life in Scotland study created by charity LGBT Youth Scotland.

Just 37% of LGBT+ youth in rural areas felt there were safe spaces available for socialising and expressing their identities, in contrast to 48% in non-rural regions.

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The report has called on the Scottish Government as well as local authorities to place greater investment in LGBTQ+ awareness and education programmes, as well as long-term youth work to help improve inclusivity.

Equalities minister Emma Roddick (below) said it was “unacceptable” that LGBT+ young people in rural areas were facing more challenges just because of where they live.

She said: “LGBT Youth Scotland's Life in Scotland report is an opportunity to reflect on the experiences of LGBTQI+ young people, understand the challenges that they face, and measure the impact of our work to build a fairer Scotland.

The National:

“It is clear that many LGBTQI+ young people in rural areas face unique challenges, simply because of where they live. This is unacceptable.

“The Scottish Government will continue to work with stakeholders, including funding LGBT Youth Scotland to continue their research, to improve the experiences of LGBTQI+ young people no matter where they live.”

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The report acknowledges that despite significant strides in LGBT+ education across Scotland, many young people in rural areas have yet to benefit from inclusive education initiatives.

Additionally, people experiencing hate crimes have expressed a lack of confidence in the police's ability to handle such incidents, prompting calls for Police Scotland to enhance support for LGBT+ young people in rural areas and improve the reporting process for hate crimes.

Dr Mhairi Crawford, LGBT Youth Scotland’s chief executive, said: “It's crucial for the Scottish Government, local authorities, and funders to invest sustainably in youth services for LGBTQ+ young people in rural areas.

“While digital tools are vital, physical gatherings are needed to combat isolation and build community and improved wellbeing.

“Inclusive services, workplaces, and education, supported by programs like the LGBT Charter, are essential for LGBTQ+ young people to feel safe and welcomed in their communities.

“If Scotland is to become a place where personal young people can thrive, it is imperative that decision-makers and service providers really listen to the insights of LGBTQ+ young people in rural areas and engage in collaborative efforts with local communities to craft effective solutions."

LGBT Youth Scotland will be launching the Life in Scotland rural report this Friday at an event in Inverness.