Youth: Gay is ok, but don't kiss in public

Youth's attitude towards gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people has become less dismissive in the recent years. Even though the negative conduct has decreased, there is still no complete acceptance of sexual minorities.

Gay young people experience more problems than heterosexual youth, according to the Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP) publication of Youth and Sexual Orientation. The publication researched the attitudes of young people between the ages of 11 and 25.

In the previous survey in 2006, 18 percent of the youth thought negatively about sexual minorities, where as the number fell to 6 percent in the recent survey. Still, a third of young people think it is dirty when they see two men kissing. The same number is 12 percent lower when it comes to a man kissing a woman.

As gay or transgender people "come out" in public, the environment almost always reacts positively. However, they experience more bullying, name calling, nasty questions and jokes than the average heterosexual youth.

Four in ten young gay people say they have experienced problems related to their sexual orientation in the past year. Meanwhile, bisexual people and non-gender conforming youths report higher rates of loneliness and sucidal thoughts.

Despite being pleased with the decrease in negative perception of sexual minorities, the interest group for homosexuals, COC, calls many of the figures alarming and insists the government, schools and parents to take action. "It is painful to see how gay, lesbian and bisexual youth are not comfortable in their own skin," says the president of the organization, Tanja Ineke.

Minister of Education, Jet Bussemaker, is concerned about the well being of gay, lesbian and bisexual youth as well, reports her spokesperson. There is still work to be done in the classroom, she says. Bussemaker wants to pay "sufficient attention" to the subject in teacher training.