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It's a sobering reality of our digital age: online spaces, where we've become accustomed to connecting with others, sharing experiences, and learning about our world, are fraught with the darkness of hate speech. More alarming is the fact that young individuals who identify as LGBTQ+ are more than twice as likely to experience this vitriolic language compared to their heterosexual peers.

In a recent study conducted by Nominet for their annual Digital Youth Index, it was revealed that over two-thirds of young people between the ages of eight and 25 have seen distressing content online. These digital spaces, which include social media platforms such as Reddit, Twitter, TikTok, and Tumblr, have become arenas for hate speech, particularly targeting minority groups.

The study's findings are a clarion call to action, piercing through the complacent narrative that Generation Z are 'internet natives,' seamlessly surfing the waves of the digital landscape. The stark reality is that the waters are far more turbulent than we'd like to admit, with numerous young individuals navigating an ocean of online hate speech and reporting negative impacts on their wellbeing.

As troubling as these statistics are, they serve as a powerful motivator for the launch of our project, LGBTIQ YOUTH NET. The alarming data underscores the urgency of our mission: to counter online hate speech and provide a much-needed lifeline to those most affected by it, including young LGBTQ+ individuals and other vulnerable groups.

Our project's objectives align with the pressing need for young people to feel connected, included, and secure in their online environments. After all, today's youth are not just future leaders; they are a crucial part of the digital fabric that connects us all.

By addressing this issue head-on, we aim to contribute to a safer, more inclusive digital landscape for everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or other defining characteristics. Through education, awareness, and action, we can help ensure that the internet becomes a space where all individuals, particularly our youth, can express themselves without fear of hate speech or discrimination.

Source: Young LGBTQ+ people more than twice as likely to experience hate speech online | Online abuse | The Guardian

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