People can be socially excluded as a result of many different, and sometimes compounding, factors. While young LGBT people are at risk of being discriminated and excluded because of their sexual orientation, they are also vulnerable to social exclusion because of their age. This is why it is important to briefly examine how social exclusion is experienced by young people in general.
It is generally recognised that people are more vulnerable to social exclusion at certain points in the life cycle. According to Katy Orr, they are especially vulnerable during childhood, the transition from education to employment and old age (Orr 2004:77). Young people are thus one of the sections of the population most likely to experience social exclusion. By comparison, the least likely to be socially excluded are those aged 25-50. There are also mechanisms of social exclusion which affect young people in a specific way. While these mechanisms are complex and multi-faceted, three key characteristics of social inclusion of young people can be identified: 1) the link between autonomy, independence and social integration; 2) the transition from school to work, and 3) the ability to participate and contribute to society as a citizen.
The European Youth Forum report published in 2004 summarised these elements, explaining that: “For young people, the risk is particularly strong due to the transition from education to employment and from dependence to independence. This is a period
of vulnerability for young people until they gain a firm foothold in employment and can depend on an adequate income. But youth is also often a period of dissatisfaction. Young people can feel alienated by society, by education systems and by the conditions in which they live”(Orr 2004:83).
Given the importance of employment as a factor of social inclusion, the integration of young people into the labour market continues to be a crucial step in the inclusion of youth in society. However, for many young people, successfully managing this transition from school to work can prove challenging for many reasons.