70% of LGBT+ young people say that schools in Ireland today are not safe places.
Wednesday August 30th, 2017
As the new school term starts, The Budding Burning Issues survey of 565 young LGBT+ people nationwide has found that schools in Ireland are not fully inclusive of LGBT+ students. The survey, carried out as part of the annual GCN Youth Issue, consulted young people between the ages of 13 and 24.
70% of the respondents disagreed with the statement: “Schools in Ireland today are safe places and are fully inclusive of LGBT+ students.” 39% highlighted a serious lack of inclusive sex education, and 25% said bullying and homophobia continues to be a problem.
Some comments from respondents include:
“It’s more of a don’t ask don’t tell situation in my school.”
“There’s definitely a constant fear for a lot of young people that others perceive to be LGBT+, because of stereotyping etc., will be attacked, intimidated or called various slurs like ‘fag’ or ‘lesbo’.”
“In all my school years there was no same-sex sex talk, no information on coping with realising you’re LGBT+, no representation in school literature whatsoever.”
“In my own primary/secondary school experience, schools tend to ignore LGBT+ issues as if they don’t exist. Oftentimes I tried to spark conversation with teachers of homosexual issues when we were discussing it and they often ignored or brushed these problems under the carpet.”
Despite the introduction of marriage equality in 2015, the top Burning Issue for young LGBT+ people today is a lack of acceptance and understanding. Almost half of respondents stated that there continues to be stigma around being LGBT+ in Ireland.
A lack of LGBT+ spaces and resources was also a major Burning Issue, particularly when it has been highlighted throughout the survey that young people don’t feel accepted in society and schools are not safe places for them.
Speaking about the Budding Burning Issues 2017 survey, Moninne Griffith, Executive Director of BeLonG To Youth Services said: “As thousands of young people return to school this week, it is both upsetting and disturbing to know that our LGBT+ youth feel unsafe in their school environment. Growing up LGBT+ can have harrowing effects on the mental health of our young people when they are not accepted. LGTB+ youth are three times more likely to attempt suicide and two times more likely to self-harm than their counterparts. Some 36% of schools engage with BeLonG To’s Stand Up week against homophobic and transphobic bullying, but more works needs to be done across all schools so LGBT+ students are safe. The upcoming LGBTI+ National Youth Strategy gives us an opportunity to make this happen.”
According to Brian Finnegan, Editor of GCN: “While we knew that LGBT+ people continue to face stigma and prejudice, we weren’t quite prepared for the overwhelming response that acceptance is the number one burning issue for under 24s. Marriage equality, which was secured through a referendum vote in 2015, gave the impression of an Ireland that had become in the majority accepting of its lesbian and gay citizens, and the hope was that this equality would bring about an end to the stigmatisation of and discrimination against LGBT+ people in this country.”
The Budding Burning Issues survey was carried out for the eighth annual Youth Issue of Ireland’s LGBT magazine, and published this week in association with BeLonG To, Ireland’s national LGBT+ youth organisation. To read the full report, please click here.
Moninne Griffith and Brian Finnegan are available for interview. To arrange an interview, please contact:
Sinead Keane, Communications Officer, BeLonG To Youth Services: 087 768 0389, firstname.lastname@example.org
Brian Finnegan, Editor of GCN: (01) 675 5025, email@example.com,
Notes for Editors:
GCN, Ireland’s LGBT magazine has been in monthly publication since 1988. The annual Youth Issue is an annual initiative in which a Youth Editor, under the age of 24, is mentored to produce a youth-interest issue of GCN. This year’s Youth Editor is 19 year-old Emer Lorenz.
The Budding Burning Issues survey is a spin-off from Burning Issues 2, the largest ever survey of LGBT+ people in Ireland, carried out by GCN’s publishers, the National LGBT+ Federation in 2016. Download Burning Issues 2 here.
BeLonG To Youth Services is the national organisation supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people in Ireland. Since 2003, BeLonG To has worked with LGBT+ young people to create a world where they are equal, safe and valued in the diversity of their identities and experiences. The organisation also provides training to professionals who work with young people, advocacy, campaigning and a specialised LGBT+ youth service with a focus on mental and sexual health. T: 01 670 6223
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