Skip to main content
Quick exit

Education Minister Outlines Pathway to Tackle Homophobic Bullying

Education Minister Outlines Pathway to Tackle Homophobic Bullying 

Sunday, 08 April 2012 

GLEN and BeLonG To Youth Services strongly welcome the announcement today (Sunday 8th April) by the Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn of his plans to address bullying in schools, in particular homophobic bullying.  

We strongly welcome the Minister’s announcement of a forum on bullying and the working group on homophobic bullying. The Department of Education and Skills are acting to make real the commitment in the Programme for Government to combat homophobic bullying,” said Michael Barron, Executive Director of BeLonG To Youth Services and Sandra Irwin-Gowran, Director of Education Policy at GLEN. 

Minister Quinn recently spoke of ‘developing a roadmap towards the elimination of homophobic bullying from our schools’. His commitment to achieving that goal, including through the plans he has put forward today, are to be commended,” continued Barron 

The goal of eliminating homophobic bullying is a very realisable goal. The Minister’s Working Group provides a critically important opportunity to create safe, supportive and affirming schools for young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people,” said Irwin-Gowran. 

The Minister today announced a forum on bullying to convene in May, and a working group on bullying which will take forward approaches to tackling the problem. The working group will initially address homophobic bullying before going on to look at other forms of bullying. 

High level Department action is necessary as homophobic and transphobic bullying need to be addressed urgently. Irish research shows that young students who are or who are perceived to be LGBT experience very significant levels of homophobic and transphobic abuse in schools and that there is a direct link between homophobic bullying and serious mental health risk, including self-harm and attempted suicide, amongst LGBT young people. 

Simply put homophobic and transphobic bullying is putting young people’s lives at risk. In this context today’s announcement is all the more welcomed. We look forward to working with the Department and believe that together we can assign homophobic bullying to the history books,” said Barron  

Progress has been made by the Department of Education and the Education Partners in the last number of years. In partnership with GLEN, the Department has developed Guidelines for schools, principals, guidance  counsellors and teachers which the Department has distributed to all second level schools.  

The Department and the Education Partners have strongly supported BeLonG To’s annual Stand Up! LGBT Awareness Week in schools, BeLonG To’s primary and post-primary teacher training programme, and the development of an innovative programme on LGBT issues for Social, Personal and Health Education classes. 

Despite this progress, homophobic bullying remains a serious problem in many primary and secondary schools. Homophobic bullying can significantly impact on the educational and life chances of a young LGBT person, and unchecked, it has an impact on all students who learn the high price of being different,” said Irwin-Gowran  

The Departmental Working Group provides the unique opportunity to ensure that the initiatives above as well as other national and international innovative approaches are actually implemented in all schools through the support of the Department, leading to an eradication of homophobic and transphobic bullying in our schools,” concluded Barron.