MORE than half of LGBTQ+ young people living in rural areas in Scotland feel that their local community is not a welcoming place, according to a new report.

The figures from LGBT Youth Scotland have found rural environments are the least supportive for community members.

A survey of nearly 1,300 LGBTQ+ youth from local authorities found that homophobia and transphobia were more prevalent in rural settings than urban.

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

Dr Mhairi Crawford, LGBT Youth Scotland’s chief executive, said: “LGBTQ+ young people deserve to flourish and thrive no matter where they live, and this report highlights that there is more to be done across Scotland, especially in rural environments.

“The findings from this report underline the unique challenges isolation presents LGBTQ+ young people living in rural areas.

“This is further intensified by the absence of dedicated support services, which simply isn’t good enough.

“If we want to champion LGBTQ+ equality in every part of Scotland, we must amplify the voices of the young people in rural Scotland who know these communities best.

“Their lived experiences must shape every policy decision, steer each new initiative, and lead the charge for progress.”

Largs and Millport Weekly News: Dr Mhairi Crawford at Edinburgh Pride Dr Mhairi Crawford at Edinburgh Pride (Image: LGBT Youth Scotland)

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

Emma Roddick, minister for Equalities, Migration and Refugees, 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.

“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.”

The study highlights a profound sense of isolation due to limited resources, sparse social support, and transportation difficulties.

Only 37 per cent of LGBTQ+ youth in rural areas felt that there were safe spaces available for socialising and expressing their identities, in contrast to 48 per cent in non-rural regions.

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

Speaking on the actions required to provide greater support, Dr Crawford added: "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."

The charity was recently awarded the Participation and Youth Voice award at the National Youth Work Awards for its work with the Trans Rights Youth Commission, and a judge’s commendation at the Proud Scotland Awards for the Charity Initiative award.

For more information on LGBT Youth Scotland visit