Celebrating Pride Month: how to provide personalised care for LGBTQ+ service users

Did you know that one in four LGBTQ+ young people feel they don’t have an adult to talk to at school, at home or in other settings? Wouldn’t it be great if you could be that adult? In this blog, we address the gap in social work training that is working with LGBTQ+ people.

Carry on reading to find out more about the actions you can take to create a safe environment where young service users can flourish and grow into adults feeling validated and empowered.

  1. Get your terminology right 

When working closely with members of the LGBTQ+ community, it is important to use the correct terminology as it shows that you respect the person’s identity.

We have included some definitions below for those who need a reminder.

Lesbian: A woman who is emotionally and/or physically attracted to other women.

Gay: A person who is emotionally and/or physically attracted to people of the same gender.

*Some women prefer to describe themselves as lesbian, but others may use the term ‘gay’ – although this is more commonly used to refer to men.

Bi-sexual/Bi: Someone who is attracted to both men and women.

Pansexual: Used to describe a person who is attracted to personality rather than gender.

A-sexual: Individuals who don’t feel any sexual attraction to anyone.

MTF: A person who was born biologically male and now identifies as female.

FTM: A person who was born biologically female and now identifies as male.

For more detailed insights into LGBTQ+ terminology, check out this guide

  1. Be ANS

Social Work England have come up with this helpful acronym to help social workers be active allies.


This means listening to your service user and accepting their gender identity for what they say it is. Building rapport and trust is key here – it is crucial your young person feels safe before sharing any information about their sexual orientation or gender identity etc. If they do open up to you, it is your job to be accepting and reinforce your support as an ally.


As a social worker, you should act as an advocate for your LGBTQ+ identifying service users. This includes educating your fellow colleagues on trans issues and acting as a non-judgemental support system for the young people you work with.

Trans affirmative 

Professionals should listen to young people and put any pre-existing/unconscious bias aside.


Let’s be honest; talking about sex is enough of a challenge for teenagers, let alone coming out. That’s why it is critical for practitioners to approach the topic with sensitivity and empathy so that the young person feels secure and understood in their presence.

  1. Improving competence

Overall, there is still a long way to go when it comes to providing the right support for LGBTQ+ people in social care settings. However, practitioners can make steps in the right direction by educating themselves and making an active effort to be an ally. Power dynamics was highlighted by SWE as a key area for improvement. For example, in instances where social workers are being heteronormative (usually subconsciously) or making assumptions about a person’s lived experience. While these issues usually stem from the stigma that exists in our society, we need to make a conscious effort to erase this imbalance in power to improve diversity and inclusion.

For more information on improving social workers’ engagement with LGBTQ+ people, make sure to watch the full Social Work England video here.

Social Personnel is proud to be an LGBTQ+ ally. Let’s keep the conversation going and help raise awareness for the changes that need to be made to create a more positive and equal society for everyone!

Looking for a new social care role? Our friendly team is here to chat on 0203 8929 340 or via email at [email protected].

carlette Isaac

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