LGBTI+ Young People Need More Than Token Gestures – Strategic Plan 2019-2021
Tuesday, May 7th 2019
Flying a rainbow flag is a great first step, but real inclusion needs a whole community approach says BeLonG To Youth Services, today launching their three-year plan for the future of LGBTI+ young people in Ireland ‘Sharing the Learning’.
The 2019-2021 Strategic Plan highlights the need for schools, services, and organisations to deliver LGBTI+ inclusive services in a way that has real impact on the lives of LGBTI+ young people. The national organisation for LGBTI+ young people in Ireland will lead the way offering training, tools, and resources to equip schools, organisations, and services to understand and meet the needs of LGBTI+ young people.
This involves changing attitudes and behaviour through developing and implementing effective organisational policies and plans, implementing programmes that support diversity and respect, and ensuring that staff are equipped to address LGBTI+ issues. Professionals need to be equipped with the tools to respond appropriately when an LGBTI+ young person ‘comes out’, to signpost LGBTI+ young people as appropriate to outside agencies and supports, and to work with the community outside the service, including the local schools, parents and community organisations to promote a wider LGBTI+ inclusive community
LGBTI+ young people in Ireland experience specific barriers when accessing services including education and healthcare according to the 2016 LGBTIreland Report. These include a lack of acknowledgement or understanding of LGBTI identities and specific experiences and the appropriate language and terminology to use., According to the report, LGBTI+ young people experience two times the level of self-harm, three times the level of attempted suicide, and four times the level of anxiety and depression compared to their non-LGBTI+ friends as a result of fear of isolation, fear of rejection and bullying.
Speaking at the launch of the event, Ombudsman for Children, Dr. Niall Muldoon commented: “It is vital that we not only move away from the secrecy associated with being LGBTI+, but we must provide appropriate and adequate support for the children involved. I have been consistently in awe of the ability of children and young people to come out of even the darkest holes psychologically – once they have the right support from the people they trust and who can offer a non-judgemental listening ear. If we want our children to fulfill their potential, we need to create the best possible environment and give them every opportunity.”
Moninne Griffith, CEO of BeLonG To Youth Services said: “Flying a rainbow flag and celebrating Pride are good first steps, but real inclusion is more than this – it is a whole community approach to ensure LGBTI+ young people are visible, valued, and fully included. Being LGBTI+ does not mean you should experience unequal treatment when you go to school, access services, or start work. Yet LGBTI+ young people can experience discrimination from a lack of understanding to outright hostility in their day to day lives from using the bathroom to visiting a healthcare provider. Over the next three years, our work will focus on enabling Ireland to support, understand, and celebrate LGBTI+ young people to live up to their full potential—free from exclusion, judgment, and discrimination. We will share our expertise offering training and resources so that Ireland that is a positive and welcoming space to grow up LGBTI+.”
Media queries contact Sinead Keane, Communications Manager, 087 768 0389, email@example.com
NOTES TO EDITOR:
- Photographs available from Maxwell Photography:01 830 8072 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Access a copy of ‘Sharing the Learning: Strategic Plan 2019-2021′ here.
- BeLonG To Youth Services is the national organisation supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI+) young people in Ireland. Since 2003, BeLonG To has worked with LGBTI+ young people to create a world where they are equal, safe, and valued in the diversity of their identities and experiences. The organisation advocates and campaigns on behalf of young LGBTI+ people, and offers a specialised LGBTI+ youth service with a focus on mental and sexual health, alongside drug and alcohol outreach.
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