Deaf LGBTIQA+ Consultation 2019/2020

Table of Contents


Here’s a summary of the Deaf LGBTIQA+ Consultation 2019/20 which looks into the needs and wants of deaf people who identify themselves on the LGBTIQA+ spectrum.

Whilst the data received gives a good insight about the needs and wants, there is a lot more to know and understand. More research and sophisticated approaches will be needed and recommendations are given for each question.

The full survey findings are available below.

If you have any questions please email us

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  • 186 people took part, which is about 27% of the number in the Facebook group Deaf LGBT
  • England, 143; Scotland, 13; Wales, 16; Northern Ireland, 13
  • 44 attended focus groups in 6 regions across England to discuss 5 of the questions in person.
  • 94 identified as Gay; 42 Lesbian; 19 Bisexual; 7 Transgender; 7 Queer; 6 Pansexual
  • Age; the majority of responses were from those aged 30-50 years; 105 in total.


  1. To reach more people from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  2. To reach more young Deaf people.
  3. To reach more deaf people who are BAME.
  4. To reach more people with Additional Needs.
  5. To remember to ask about sexual orientation and gender identity separately in future research.
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Mental Health

Although only asked about their mental health on the day of their response, it was concerning to note that approximately 38% were in low scores; said they were not doing well with their mental health.


  1. Deeper research is carried out to compare mental health prevalence rates in Deaf LGBTIQA+ people.
  2. To look at interventions and whether more can be done with expertise from mainstream LGBT+ sector, or wider Deaf LGBT+.
  3. Deaf LGBTIQA+ main website to have more links referring to initiatives around mental health for Deaf people.
  4. Deaf LGBTIQA+ to consider approaching organisations like SignHealth with projects that have a mental health incentive for future developments.
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Sexual Health

A range of places are attended by deaf LGBTIQA+ people for sexual health; GUM clinics, GPs, STI clinics, local hospital, local service (individual names given). Individual answers were given elsewhere.

Some did think they could improve their sexual health, but the majority did not. For those who did say yes, reasons tended to be either the need for BSL information resources; access to interpreters; trust issues with interpreters; and needing to change sexual behaviour.


  1. We must note that we do not know enough about the experiences of young people and that more engagement is needed here.
  2. It would be good to learn and share good practice; the views from our North West focus group suggests that Manchester has it good. It is worth looking into this location further whilst taking caution that small voluntary focus groups do not represent the whole.
  3. To work with ASLI – the Association of Sign Language Interpreters – to look and identify best practice around interpreters in the field of LGBTIQA+ sexual health.
  4. To widely champion the need for accessible resources – BSL videos and plain English came up several times.
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Having Seen a Doctor/Nurse

  • A number have seen someone about sexual health or reproduction issues
  • For those who said yes; they reported this as either being because of an incident, responsibility, routine.
  • For those who said no; reasons included safe sex, committed relationship, having no need, abstinence of sex


  1. To work with sexual health providers to develop further insight about their services, especially in the devolved countries.
  2. To work with reproductive health providers to look further into the experiences of Deaf LGBTIQA+ people about their services, especially in the devolved countries (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland).
  3. To consider whether sexual health and reproductive health ought to be kept separate in future research
  4. To champion the positive experiences of services that some respondents have shared e.g. responsible sexual health.
  5. To develop and benchmark what accessible services mean
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Counsellor Preferences

  • 48% reported that they wanted to have LGBTIQA+ deaf counsellors
  • 25% reported that they wanted to have deaf counsellors
  • 15% reported they wanted to have LGBTIQA+ interpreters with a counsellor
  • 7% reported they wanted to have an interpreter with a counsellor
  • Lived experience is evidently key


  1. To work with key players in the sector to share this information and assess current pathways for Deaf LGBTIQA+ people who may want to develop this career.
  2. To try and identify if there are any Deaf LGBTIQA+ counsellors in the UK.
  3. To work with key players so that Deaf LGBTIQA+ have every chance of finding Deaf LGBTIQA+ counsellors.
  4. Deaf LGBTIQA+ website to signpost people to counselling and, where possible, how to request Deaf LGBTIQA+ counsellors.
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  • 64% said they saw themselves as deaf first
  • 12% said they saw themselves as LGBTIQA first
  • Quotes from the focus groups makes for interesting reading
  • Intersectionality in the Deaf LGBTIQA+ population is a definite area of interest and something to always be championed in work ahead.


  1. To always consider intersectionality in the wide areas of work when supporting, informing and representing deaf people who identify on the LGBTIQA+ spectrum.
  2. To consider developing in-depth research to understand intersectionality in deaf people who identify on the LGBTIQA+ spectrum further.
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Information and Resources

  • Diversity was a theme people picked on
  • Reaching deaf people about such resources was a key issue
  • BSL access was also a common issue
  • A clear demand was given for co-authorship when developing new resources; nothing about us without us.


  1. To create a top tips resource for information providers in the LGBTIQA+ field to use.
  2. To encourage examples of good practice in the field of information resources.
  3. Dissemination efforts should always take into consideration the needs of our audience – therefore it should be clear, simple and easy to understand.
  4. In partnership with key providers and Deaf LGBTIQA+ community members, develop funding proposals to create a range of top information resources needed.

[BSL translation to come soon]


  • 95 did not know, 72 said yes, and 14 said no
  • For those who said yes, a large number of suggestions were given as to how

We did not get the sense that there is a large majority want for Deaf LGBTIQA+ to become an established and separate organisation with its own services, but more of the view to work with key partners out there in the Deaf and LGBT+ sectors to look at opportunities for improvements either by making sure that their services are accessible or consider creating new employment opportunities for deaf people to work within their organisations.

Representation can be useful but needs careful consideration as pointed out by one respondent:

  • “Yes, but be cautious about representation as a goal, because that needs fuller uptake and shared ownership to be inclusive. Network is good because it recognises individual power and differences in influence across and within groups.”


  1. To work with members of the LGBT Consortium to develop our work as an organisation further.
  2. To consider becoming an Incorporated charity, CIO Foundation but not until late 2020/21, because due to the results of the survey, we will need time to discuss and establish what our aims are first before we change the structure of the organisation.
  3. To approach key mainstream LGBT+ providers with the view of forging partnerships.
  4. To share our learning with the Deaf sector.
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The Name of Deaf LGBTIQA+

Although this question could have been better structured, a large number of responses raised that the name was long and hard to spell.

A lot was said at the focus groups which make interesting reading.

Suggestions included:

  • BSL Rainbow
  • Rainbow Ears
  • Rainbow Hands
  • Deaf Colourful
  • Deaf Fab
  • Deaf Now
  • Deaf Wow
  • Deaf Diversity
  • Deaf Freedom
  • Deaf LGBT
  • Deaf LGBT +
  • Deaf LGBTIQA Empower
  • Deaf Queers
  • Deafbow

Although Deaf Rainbow UK did seem to have more popularity, more work is needed to be done to think about this carefully.

Whilst we do not propose asking individual deaf LGBTIQA+ groups to change their names across the UK, we have to make it easier for people to be able to find such groups. Our website can go a long way.

And as one online response summaries it well:

  • “No matter what name, can’t please everyone.”


  1. To develop better synergy needed across the sector, especially with the Facebook Group Deaf LGBTQ+ UK.
  2. To carry out more work on best options for a suitable alternative name.
  3. To resolve issues for navigation for young people or people who have just come out or started to think about their sexuality.
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How to Get Information

Many ideas were given on how best to disseminate resources.

Online seemed consistently a highly favoured option, especially given how deaf people live across the UK and often in small numbers in different areas. Workshops were also a strong favourite suggestion.

Whilst a range of ideas have been presented, they all deserve scoping out, especially in terms of costs; both in terms of resources but also staff/volunteer time to actually implement.


  1. For all future possible ideas to consider both online and face to face methods.
  2. To seek funding to build much more capacity online.
  3. To share with key regional and local deaf organisations, the wants, needs and methods of Deaf LGBTIQA+ in receiving information.
  4. To capitalise/bridge on current initiatives that may be happening elsewhere; using their platforms and resources to reach people.
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Information at School

  • 152 individual responses were given; 34 left it blank

We can identify the top priorities being linked to a general desire for there to be far greater openness, reassurance that being LGBTIQA+ is fine, for sexual health education to be a priority. It was very clear from the views of older people that such a concept is needed based on their own experiences at school.


  1. To work with key players in the field of deaf education.
  2. To work with young deaf people in identifying what resources are needed today and then develop funding projects to take this forward.
  3. To look at a number of mainstream resources and consider a list of those that are accessible, and hence promote these via Deaf LGBTIQA+ work.
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Supporting Non-British Deaf LGBTIQA+ People

  • 118 responses were given to this question; 68 left it blank

Many of the comments, although individual, related to their own experiences and understanding of discrimination and/or intersectionality

  1. Comments about equality
  2. Providing support
  3. Asking them specifically
  4. Acknowledging privilege when it is present
  5. Need for partnerships
  6. Meeting them halfway


  1. To seek funding opportunities to look further at intersectionality, and the experiences of Deaf non-British nationals who move to the UK to live in.
  2. To ensure greater access to Deaf LGBTIQA+ work as determined with them.
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Supporting “Sam”, a Mainstream 16 Years Old

We purposely kept this fictional individual’s name non-binary and made it clear Sam was from a mainstream school to remind respondents that a majority of today’s Deaf younger generation do not go to deaf schools with an available deaf community to access after leaving school.

  • 145 responses were received; 41 left it blank
    • Contact Deaf LGBTIQA+
    • Schools should have the remit to support Sam (specific teachers with the responsibility)
    • Diversity Role Models (a charity) should send Deaf LGBT+ role models
    • Media
    • Counselling
    • Information resources via schools with careful consideration on applicability
    • Deaf organisations
    • Local specialist LGBTQ organisations
    • Wider promotion in Events, Prides, health services,
    • Youth Sector related provision (e.g. youth clubs)
    • Bespoke online services
  • Some had total empathy for Deaf individuals in mainstreamed schools and the challenges that can accompany this, other respondents had much less
  • Comments from the focus group made for interesting reading


  1. To work with Diversity Role Models and any other similar organisations to share these findings and look at project ideas to specifically reach deaf young people.
  2. To consider social media and online ways of reaching young people.
  3. To work with BATOD (British Association Teachers of the Deaf) and key Deaf organisations, such as NDCS (National Deaf Children’s Society) to look at ways forward with deaf young people.
  4. As with other questions, to look at dissemination issues for young Deaf LGBTIQA+ to find support when they need it.
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Where Workshops Ought to Be

  • A range of answers were given which gives a real picture of this specific population and its diversity.
  • The range of answers demonstrates a whole host of ideas but many of which will need resourcing and practical considerations.
  • It is important to be realistic but ambitious too.


  1. To always consider the UK and its geographical spread.
  2. To prioritise high dense populations as long as travel/support bursaries can be offered
  3. To consider partnerships for rural/low density areas.
  4. To help organisations decide where to deliver.

[BSL translation to come soon]

Adoption and Surrogacy Information

Interestingly, even though most people responded with yes, no or don’t know, comments that followed suggested that maybe not everyone understood the question clearly as both “yes” and “no” responses were followed with comments about how to improve this.

  • A very strong indication was given for the need of BSL access
  • This follows next by issues around navigation to the right information resources


  1. To reach out to key organisations with the responsibility around LGBT+ and adoption/surrogacy for partnership work.
  2. To further determine, with Deaf LGBTIQA+ people, what is meant by BSL access to resources, such as video stories and in-vision signers.
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Annual Event

  • 127 said yes; 21 said no; 32 did not know

The strong yes response is supported by numerous comments from the focus groups which makes for interesting reading, along with ideas too.

We also subsequently asked respondents about youth camps and received very mixed responses. 36 didn’t know; 62 said yes, and 59 said No. Ideally this question ought to have only gone to young people.


  1. To take forward ideas to identified funding sources for project development proposals.
  2. To prioritise which parts of these ideas are deliverable given what resources are available or required.
  3. To consider different audience needs, but also to be realistic at times.
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Specific Spaces at Events

  • 121 said yes; 22 said no
  • Ideas of deaf specific, international specific and LGBTIQA+ specific events were given

Similar as found in 15. Where Workshops Ought to Be“Not too many events as not enough of us” – there is a desire for us to focus on high density events, a recognition that this is not a heavily-populated group.


  1. To share these findings with providers of both deaf and non-deaf events.
  2. To improve dissemination issues – raised in other questions too – whereby better access and opportunities can be given to deaf people.
  3. To consider that some have families, children to accommodate, and advocate that.
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Receive Information

  • 149 said Facebook; 132 via emails; 86 by newsletter; 58 Twitter; 31 by letter


  1. To seek funding to invest and develop information dissemination.
  2. To approach Facebook and Twitter further strategically with funding or greater volunteer involvement.
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Accessibility Of LGBTIQA+ Organisations

From 186 individual responses, including 79 blank answers, categorised responses were:

  • Access via videophone (12)
  • Information given via BSL videos (12)
  • Deaf awareness needed, support and acknowledgements (12)
  • Access via text chat or email, subtitles. Plain English. Captions on stage during pride events. There is too much reliance on using the phone. (12)
  • Employ deaf people, deaf experts (10)
  • Have deaf volunteers, include deaf visibly e.g. deaf drag queens (8)
  • And others in smaller numbers

Only one positive comment was received – 

  • “Tried the Switchboard’s online chat once. Was fine. Don’t know about others.”


  1. To engage with key providers and encourage some kind of audit of services for deaf people.
  2. To develop a set of standards that can help providers develop their work.
  3. To consider a “Mystery Shoppers” project whereby the findings can be collated to influence needed improvements.
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Northern Ireland and Scotland

The report includes a comment about each from 2 people living there. Whilst personal and insightful, they offer some depth into the limited numbers who participated in the survey.

Next Steps

We are mindful that the views of 186 people and 44 via focus groups does not represent the whole population fully.

All of the recommendations made will have to be discussed and prioritized, especially given the voluntary status of the committee members.

Following this, the training needs of the committee members and interested volunteers can be adequately established.

All of the recommendations above ought to be used in formulating a Theory of Change model, which can then be used to determine the milestones ahead for Deaf LGBTIQA+’s forthcoming work with clear strategic priorities.

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