Females who identify as sexual minorities may face an increased risk of substance use that shows up as early as age 13, researchers said.
The pattern of increased substance use for youth who identify as sexual minorities is magnified significantly for females, according to a study published in the Journal of LGBT Youth.
“We saw this striking difference in substance use at age 13 and there was rapid increase in the rate of cigarette and alcohol use over time,” said study lead author Sarah Dermody, Assistant Professor in Oregon State University in the US.
The researchers also noted that early adolescence is a critical period for prevention and intervention efforts.
For the study, 2,200 urban girls (heterosexual as well as those identifying as lesbian/gay or bisexual) were studied for substance use from age 13 to 20.
The researchers found that disparities in substance use between heterosexual and sexual minority girls were already present at age 13 and the difference in substance use increased as they entered their 20s.
Almost a year after the landmark Supreme Court judgement decriminalising homosexuality, India is set to get its first dedicated hiring consultancy firm for the members of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/transsexual, intersex and queer/questioning) community.
At present, even after the change in law, members of India’s LGBTQ community lag behind their western counterparts in attaining equal pay, corporate representation and other benefits.
Accordingly, the Bengaluru-based Diversity & Inclusion firm — Pride Circle — plans to shatter some of these stereotypes via a dedicated wing which will look at the job consultancy market for the LGBTQ candidates.
“There is a lot of systemic bias and roadblock for LGBTI job seekers, these becomes even more challenging for visibly LGBT individuals,” Pride Circle’s Co-Founder Ramkrishna Sinha told IANS.
“Our goal is to work with companies to eliminate such conscious or unconscious biases in the recruitment process and also work with candidates to enable them for facing interviews. A lot of LGBT candidates face issues of self-esteem, due to the series of discrimination they have faced.”
Not just unemployment of LGBTQ candidates, even the lack of sensitisation and unfriendly policies towards businesses that cater to this internationally significant segment of consumers has led to an estimated loss of around $30 billion to India’s GDP as per a World Bank report.
The 2014 World Bank report — Economic Cost of Homophobia and the exclusion of LGBTQ people: A case of India — estimated the country to have lost 0.1-1.7 per cent of the GDP due to homophobia.
“Companies have been hesitant in engaging and at times are unaware of the method to that engagement. The siloes leads to stereotypes and misinformation on both ends, leading to a growing chasm, our aim to build platforms of engagement for the community and corporation to meet,” Sinha said.
“We are encouraging corporations to have avenues of dialogue, look at opportunities to engage besides a full time job, and these could be fellowship, internship, skill building programs etc.”
Globally, this segment known generically as — Pink Dollar Economy — has become a financially significant sub-section of the consumer market for various industries like travel, insurance and even white goods.
Recently, the firm organised India’s first LGBTQ job fair — RISE (Reimagining Inclusion for Social Equity) — in Bengaluru. Over 40 companies participated in the event including the likes of Uber and Intel.
Besides, the job fair saw a participation of more than 300 LGBTQ candidates for various sectors in IT, banking and administration. “We have over 50 companies, who are very interested in hiring from the LGBT talent pool,” Sinha said.
“The companies which participated in the job fair were delighted by the candidates they met, five candidates already got confirmed job offers from the fair.” Additionally, the firm aims to organise the job fair in 10 cities over the next 18-24 months. The firm is hopeful to place at least 1,000 LGBTQ candidates within a year. (IANS)