Ireland’s Youth Asked to Stand Up Against Homo/Transphobic Bullying for BeLonG To’s Annual Campaign
Tuesday, 04 March 2014
Today, Tuesday March 4th, RTE presenter Miriam O’Callaghan showed her support at the launch of Stand Up! Awareness Week against homophobic and transphobic bullying in Ireland. The fifth annual Stand Up! Awareness Week is organised by BeLonG To, Ireland’s national organisation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) young people. For the week of March 10th – 14thth, BeLonG To has provided vital educational materials to all post primary schools and youth services in the country, as well as organising training events for teachers and youth workers in how to support LGBT young people and tackle bullying.
Research funded by the Department of Education and Skills and carried out by Dublin City University found that 79% of teachers were aware of homophobic bullying in their schools. Education is the key to ending this. BeLonG To is working with schools and the education system to raise awareness of LGBT identity and to stop homophobia.
Education should be transformative – it should make young people’s lives better – and it can be used this way to educate on homophobia. The BeLonG To Stand Up! campaign has been identified as one of the key actions schools can take under the Government’s National Action Plan on Bullying. This year’s campaign is funded by the Department of Education and Skills, the Ireland Funds and ESB Electric Aid.
In 2010 BeLonG To provided 700 Stand Up! Awareness Week educational packs to youth services in the country. This number has increased every year since, with more than 2,240 being distributed for 2014. The packs include information on homophobic and transphobic bullying for teachers and youth workers, educational DVDs, a discussion guide, lesson plans, posters and other promotional material. Events are also taking place to promote the initiative in youth centres around the country.
David Carroll, Executive Director of BeLonG To, said: “In recent weeks, discussions on homophobia have been to the fore of Irish media. We welcome any healthy and robust debate on homophobia as we see the devastating effects it can have on young people. It is important that we remember that at the end of the day it is all too often LGBT young people who suffer the most because of homophobia. Homophobic bullying is the most common form of harassment experienced by young people. With young people coming out in greater numbers, and at a younger age than ever before, the Stand Up! campaign is needed more than ever. In 2014, we simply cannot allow any young person to be harassed for who they are, and the success and growth of Stand Up! over the last five years has shown how eager young people across Ireland are to show their support to their LGBT friends. 2014’s campaign further strengthens this message of solidarity, and many isolated or vulnerable LGBT young people will hear important messages of affirmation and support in regard to their sexual orientation or gender identity, in many cases for the first time.”
Speaking prior to today’s launch, Ruairí Quinn T.D., Minister for Education and Skills said: “No-one should have to experience homophobic bullying, especially not young people. I urge all young people to Stand Up! to such bullies. Critically, I believe that young people who see homophobic bullying occurring, the by-standers, should also be empowered to intervene and show that they will not tolerate seeing their peers bullied just because of their sexuality.”
Dr. Carol-Anne O’Brien, BeLonG To Director of Advocacy said, “Research shows that, unfortunately, homophobic and transphobic bullying are widespread in Irish schools. Stand Up! tackles bullying by bringing a positive message of friendship to all students across Ireland. Stand Up! also tells LGBT young people that they are not alone, and they do not have to suffer or witness homophobic or transphobic bullying in their schools.”
In its first year Stand Up! Awareness Week won the support of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD), and in each following year has won support from more and more education partners, among which now include the Association of Secondary School Teachers in Ireland (ASTI), the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI), the Irish Second Level Student Union (ISSU), the Institute of Guidance Counsellors (IGC), Educate Together, the National Parents Council of Ireland – Post Primary (NPC-PP), the Association of Community & Comprehensive Schools (ACCS), Education & Training Board Ireland (ETBI), and The Joint Managerial Body (JMB). In 2014, the Stand Up pack is available for the first time in Irish. The Seas an fód! booklet has been sent to post-primary gaelscoileanna throughout Ireland, and is available to Irish teachers from BeLonG To’s website.
For more information on the Stand Up! Awareness Week against Homophobic and Transphobic Bullying March 10th – 14th March 2014 visit www.belongto.org. Join the conversation #StandUp14 & @BeLonG_To.
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