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Groundbreaking ‘Growing Up Gay’ Marks a Significant Shift in Irish History

Groundbreaking ‘Growing Up Gay’ Marks a Significant Shift in Irish History 

Sunday, 18 April 2010 

Ireland’s national youth service for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) young people, BeLonG To, have welcomed RTE’s documentary Growing Up Gay, describing it as ‘groundbreaking’. Produced by Crossing The Line Productions in collaboration with BeLonG To, the first of its kind documentary explores the challenges faced by young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals growing up in Ireland. More information can be found on 

Growing Up Gay airs on RTE 1, Monday 19th April at 9.35pm, and captures a period in the lives of a number of young LGBT people who talk frankly about being LGBT and young in Ireland today. A wide variety of young LGBT people are featured, alongside family members and friends, and portrays both the positive and negative consequences of coming out in Ireland in 2010.  

Michael Barron, Director of BeLonG To, said, “The content of this documentary, and the fact that it is being shown on prime time television, marks a huge shift in Irish society. When BeLonG To started its work seven years ago, LGBT young people were all but invisible in Ireland, in their schools, communities and certainly in the media. Growing Up Gay brings their real life experiences into every sitting room in the country, and provides LGBT young people with a platform to voice what is going on for them. 

Michael continued, “While the documentary marks a shift in Irish society, it also  speaks to the many young lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender in Ireland who are forced to hide their true self. The simple message is It’s ok to be gay.”  

David Carroll, National Network Manager at BeLonG To said: “The series sensitively and honestly portraits the positive change which has happened in Ireland, as well as some of the serious issues which remain, including homophobic bullying and its dangerous impacts on young people.”  

David continued, “We commend Crossing The Line Productions and RTE for doing such a thorough and powerful series, and it has been a great pleasure to work with them over the past number of years.”  

The documentary is representative of the expression of hope LGBT young people have for positive social change in Ireland. The bravery of the young people in allowing us all to share their lives and personal experiences is evidence of the great resilience of LGBT young people despite the challenges they face in their daily lives. 

In light of the in-school homophobic bullying highlighted in the series, BeLonG To calls on schools across the country and the Minister for Education & Science to take action to improve the situation for LGBT young people in schools by: 

  • Developing a strong and directive strategy to combat homophobic bullying, including developing mandatory guidelines and including homophobic bullying in whole school evaluations. 
  • Ensuring that all Codes of Behavior and Anti-Bullying policies specifically mention and protect LGBT young people from homophobic bullying. 
  • Ensuring that teachers, guidance counselors, schools chaplains and school counselors receive specific training in supporting LGBT students, both in training colleges and in-service training. 

The documentary series also highlights the vital role played by LGBT youth services around Ireland in supporting young people at some of the most important times of their lives. Because of this BeLonG To calls for the unfunded groups which it supports in Dundalk, Donegal, Limerick, Tipperary, Cork and Waterford to receive state funding as a matter of urgency.