When putting together this special issue, it was important to remember that we know less about lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) young people’s (YP) lives than we do about other populations. We do have some knowledge, however. We know that their experience has specific and significant challenges, but that studying them is challenging. We also know that the situation globally is improving, but discrimination and oppression of LGBT people is still an issue in many parts of the world. For example, British schools are less homophobic than they used to be, but LGBT YP are still significantly more likely to be bullied than their peers (Bradlow et al, 2017). These challenges present with significant differences depending on the social, cultural and political contexts. There are several concepts that can be helpfully used to understand LGBT YP’s lives, and are often used in research and conceptual work about LGBT individuals. Heteronormativity is the idea that all sexuality in social and cultural life is heterosexual, and it makes ‘heterosexual experience… synonymous with human experience’ (Yep, 2002, p. 167).