Celebrities Support Ireland’s Largest Ever Campaign Against Homophobic Bullying
Thursday, 31 March 2011
Today, Thursday 31st March, BeLonG To Youth Services launched its annual nationwide campaign Stand Up! LGBT Awareness Weeks, which runs from the 4th-15th April 2011. The campaign which was launched by Dominic Hannigan TD, aims to raise awareness of homophobic bullying and the issues that affect Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender young people (LGBT) in Ireland today. BeLonG To believes that up to 40,000 Irish teenagers will participate in this year’s campaign.
As part of the campaign over 1,600 secondary schools and youth organisations throughout Ireland have been issued Stand Up! packs which include information on homophobic bullying for teachers and youth workers, lesson plans for education activities to raise awareness of LGBT issues, education DVDs, a discussion guide and fundraising activity suggestions for secondary schools and youth organisations to support future campaigns.
The campaign is supported by several Irish celebrities including the cast of hit RTE series RAW and Pure Mule, RTE presenter Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh, comedian Katherine Lynch and model Vogue Williams, all of whom have created videos of support to encourage secondary schools and youth organisations to get behind the campaign
Commenting on the campaign, Michael Barron, Chief Executive of BeLonG To said, “On foot of the commitment in the Programme for Government to combat homophobic bullying, we call on the government to work with us to develop a National Action Plan to address this huge problem in a concerted way. Over the next two weeks young people all over the country will stand up against homophobic bullying and will show their support for their gay friends. This is a fantastic and powerful action from young people. When this is combined with real action at a government level we should see major inroads being made in ending this harassment. In 2011 we should not allow any young person to be harassed for who they are.”
Research supported by the HSE’s National Office for Suicide Prevention has found that over 58% of LGBT young people are bullied at school with 20% skipping school due to fear of harassment. This research found that there is a direct correlation between homophobic bullying and feelings of rejection and suicidal behaviours amongst LGBT young people. The research also found that 50% of LGBT people under the age of 25 have seriously thought of ending their lives, 20% have attempted suicide and 27% of LGBT young people self-harmed at least once.*
Speaking at the launch, Dominic Hannigan TD said, “Over the years, BeLonG To has played a leading role in opening our eyes to homophobic bullying. I’m delighted to be launching the Stand Up campaign today! I feel especially proud to be part of this event because our Programme for Government includes homophobic bullying as a priority issue in schools. Stand Up! LGBT Awareness Weeks will make a big contribution to addressing homophobic bullying and we look forward to working with BeLonG To to develop whole school approaches to address homophobia in schools.”
This year the campaign is supported by the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) and a support letter from Clive Byrne, the director of NAPD was sent out to all 750 second-level schools around Ireland, encouraging them to support the programme.
“The problem of homophobic bullying has received much attention in recent years and things are getting better but a lot more can be done. The NAPD has been at the fore in providing resources to principals and we recently offered training to principals in addressing homophobic bullying in schools. Stand Up! Addresses homophobic bullying in a positive manner, by encouraging friendship among students,” commented Clive Byrne, Director of NAPD.
Stand Up! LGBT Awareness Weeks is an initiative of BeLonG To Youth Services, the campaign aims to raise awareness of homophobic bullying and combat its affects through fostering friendships and understanding among young people. For more information on the campaign visit www.belongto.org.
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