Merlin College and Coláiste Bhaile Chláir step-up to create a safe space for Galway LGBTI+ Students in Ireland’s first LGBTI+ Safe & Supportive Schools Project

December 2020 

73% of second-level Irish LGBTI+ students feel unsafe at school

 

 

Merlin College and Coláiste Bhaile Chláir are the first two schools in Galway to sign up to participate in a new national LGBTI+ Safe & Supportive Schools Project.  Merlin College, Coláiste Bhaile Chláir and 18 other schools nationwide are leading the way by partnering with BeLonGTo Youth Services to undertake its LGBTI+ Safe & Supportive Schools Project, a ground-breaking whole-school approach to creating a school environment that is fully inclusive of LGBTI+ students, thus changing the lives of thousands of young people across Ireland.

BeLonG To Youth Services is the national organisation supporting LGBTI+ young people in Ireland. Findings from its Schools Climate Survey 2019  indicate that an alarming 73% of LGBTI+ students feel unsafe at school. While 68% of LGBTI+ students stated they hear anti-LGBTI+ remarks from other students, a shocking 48% reported hearing homophobic remarks and a further 55% reported hearing transphobic remarks  from teachers and staff members.

Speaking at the launch of the programme, Mr. Cleary, Principal of Merlin College said: “All schools should prioritise the safety and wellbeing of LGBTI+ students. We hope that in adopting this programme we can create an environment in which LGBTI+ feel safe and supported by all of our staff and their classmates.  This is a very positive endeavour and we are delighted to be a part of it in a very meaningful way as it helps us all in our school community to live up to our mantra which is ‘Merlin College: Where nobody is different because everybody is!”

Also speaking at the launch of the programme, Alan Mongey, Principal of Coláiste Bhaile Chláir said: “All schools should prioritise the safety and wellbeing of LGBTI+ students. We hope that in adopting this programme we can continue to create an environment in which LGBTI+ feel safe and supported by all of our staff and their classmates.”

The Safe & Supportive Schools Project spans people, policies and practices; its pioneering holistic approach means systematic positive supports are put in place across six key areas;

  1. Staff Organisation & Development
  2. Policy & Planning
  3. Curriculum
  4. Safe & Supportive Environment
  5. Community Partnership
  6. Direct Support To Young People

 

BeLonG To provides Programme Coordination Training for senior management and LGBTI+ awareness training for all staff members, a Toolkit and Resource Pack with everything needed to become an accredited school. Ongoing mentorship support from BeLonG To’s Education and Training Coordinator. The project is not exclusively focused on the school but also working with the community outside the school gates, including any local LGBTI+ youth projects/groups, parents and community organisations to promote a wider LGBTI+ inclusive community.This project is supported by Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) and funding has been made available by Google.org through the 2019 Impact Challenge on Safety and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

Moninne Griffith CEO, BeLonG To Youth Services says: “Our school years help to shape who we are and who we can become. We are proud to support Merlin College and Coláiste Bhaile Chláir as they begin their journeys towards becoming schools that are fully inclusive of LGBTI+ students. LGBTI+ young people need to feel equal, safe and supported at school so that they can live healthy lives and thrive at school. Today we celebrate Merlin College and Coláiste Bhaile Chláir for taking the lead and joining our new national project to ensure that school is a safe and supportive space for all students.”

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 also 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. Learn more about the BelonG To LGBTI+ Safe and Supportive Schools Project. T: 01 670 6223 E: training@belongto.org

 

ENDS

Notes to editors

  • Download BeLonG To’s Schools Climate Survey 2019 Report 
  • Stand Up Awareness Week 2020 ( November 16th-20th) is a time for second-level schools, youth services, and Youthreach Centres in Ireland to take a stand against homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying. BeLonG To Youth Services has distributed Stand Up Awareness Week Resource Packs and Posters to all second-level schools in Ireland. To access these free resources including curricular based activity ideas, visit belongto.org
  • LGBTI+ Safe and Supportive Schools Project: LGBTI+ Safe and Supportive Schools Project was developed by Lisa O’Hagan, HSE and Michael Barron of BeLonG To Youth Services. The programme was intensively piloted in two post-primary schools in Donegal and comprehensively evaluated by National University Ireland, Galway.