Action Plan on Bullying is Breakthrough in Combating Homophobic & Transphobic Bullying
Tuesday, 29 January 2013
Joint Press Release by BeLonG To Youth Services and the Gay & Lesbian Equality Network.
Today, Tuesday January 29th, the Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairi Quinn TD and the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald TD launched Ireland’s first action plan to stem the tide of bullying, and in particular homophobic bullying. The plan was drawn up over nine months by the Anti-Bullying Working Group established by the Department of Education and Skills.
Launching the action plan Minister Quinn said:
“In line with the commitment in the Programme for Government, I asked the working group to put a specific focus on homophobic bullying. Research shows that homophobic bullying is a particularly acute problem for young people [in our schools] who are either lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender or perceived to be so.”
“This action plan is a critical breakthrough and marks a historic recognition by government that homophobic and transphobic bullying are urgent issues and that have serious impacts on young people’s mental health”, said Michael Barron, Executive Director of BeLonG To, Ireland’s national LGBT Youth Service.
Also welcoming the plan, Sandra Gowran, Director of Education Policy Change at the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) said: “We commend Minister Quinn and his Department for their understanding of the seriousness of the issues for LGBT young people and for a plan that contains very real and tangible actions which will improve the lives of LGBT young people in our schools and communities”.
The groundbreaking plan launched today has a series of actions to be undertaken to address bullying in schools that fully integrates measures to combat homophobic bullying. These actions are to be undertaken collaboratively by a wide range of actors: the Department, the Education partners; schools; parents and NGOs, including BeLonG To and GLEN
Minister Quinn commented that “it’s important that we recognise that bullying behaviour sometimes stems from prejudice – from racism, homophobia or ignorance about a different culture or religion. Addressing such issues can be difficult, challenging and emotive, but prejudiced attitudes must be explored and dealt with. I take the view that a culture that encourages respect, values opinions, celebrates differences and promotes positive relationships is better for all.”
Acknowledging this, Michael Barron from BeLonG To said that “this plan contains actions to tackle prejudice, including homophobia, which is the root causes of much bullying. This is critically important. Homophobic bullying can now happen in many areas of a young person’s life – in the classroom, in the school yard, on the playing field and on the street. Increasing the internet, or cyberbullying, is used as a vehicle for homophobic bullying, leaving LGBT young people, and those perceived to be LGBT with a sense that they cannot get away from it”.
“We have been working together for many years to tackle homophobic bullying and improve our school system so that LGBT young people have safe and supportive schools. It is evident that a high level of commitment to the eradication of homophobic bullying now exists, and this action plan marks the most significant breakthrough in this work to date, placing Ireland at the forefront of attempts to address this acute problem,” concluded Irwin-Gowran.
“Minister Quinn and Minister Fitzgerald and their departments continue to demonstrate their commitment to supporting LGBT young people, through their work in schools, youth services and communities. Their openness to partnering with NGO’s and placing the needs of LGBT young people to the forefront has been vitally important. We look forward to continuing this partnership in coming years,” concluded Barron
BeLonG To’s Stand Up! Don’t Stand for Homophobic Bullying campaign will run in schools across Ireland from 11th – 15th March 2013.
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