Merlin College awarded as a safe space for Galway LGBTQ+ students

In 2020, Merlin College signed up to participate in a new national LGBTQ+ Safe & Supportive Schools project run by Belong To, LGBTQ+ Youth Ireland.

Merlin College now joins 12 other schools nationwide in being accredited by Belong To as a Safe & Supportive school for LGBTQ+ students. The schools received an award from The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Alison Gilliland at an event in the Mansion House, Dublin, last week.

The Safe & Supportive Schools Project, designed and facilitated by Belong To, is a ground-breaking whole-school approach to creating a school environment that is fully inclusive of LGBTQ+ students. Spanning policy, curriculum, staff culture, school environment, student supports, and engagement with the local community, the Safe & Supportive Schools Project goes beyond awareness and ensures sustainable, systematic change for LGBTQ+ youth.

Belong To’s School Climate Survey (2019) indicates that a staggering 73% of LGBTQ+ students feel unsafe at school, with 1 in 3 reporting that other students are unaccepting of LGBTQ+ identities. Positively, the research also found that LGBTQ+ students who witnessed staff intervene when homophobic remarks were made were 15% more likely to feel that they belong in their school, and 8% less likely to miss school days due to feeling unsafe.

Awarding the successful schools, Lord Mayor of Dublin, Alison Gilliland (she/her) said:

“I am delighted to celebrate with you who have at school level created truly safe and supportive spaces for all students. The SASS model was designed to support schools across core action areas to become more inclusive for LGBTQ+ students. It is fantastic to celebrate with the first 13 schools to have achieved the core standards within each of these areas. These schools have set an inspiring example not just to your own students and school communities but to our education sector as a whole. There is still so much work to be done in eradicating homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia in society including so much education and awareness raising with the school system.  By creating a space in Your schools where young people can feel truly safe and supported, you have been part of something very special.”

 

Upon receiving the SASS accreditation award, Danielle O’Neill, SASS Coordinator, Merlin College said:

All of us in Merlin College are thrilled to have received the Accreditation. The programme from start to finish was truly incredible. Some of the standouts for me were the training,  the resources and all of the amazing support. Sharon and Stephen are two of the most supportive people ever, who helped us every step of the way. No question was too small. Our students were blown away following Stephen’s Visit. Knowing that there is an organisation that is advocating for the inclusion and rights of our young LGBTI+ people is both inspiring and necessary. As a result of this accreditation, Merlin College will forever be a safe and supportive environment for the LGBTI+ community”

 

Speaking at the event, Moninne Griffith (she/her), CEO, Belong To stated:

“We are proud to accredit Merlin College as an LGBTQ+ Safe and Supportive School, alongside 12 other schools nationwide. LGBTQ+ youth need to not only feel equal and safe, they also need the conditions to allow them to thrive personally, socially, and academically. Today, we celebrate all that the school community (insert school name) has done to develop a culture of LGBTQ+ inclusion, from the classroom to the staffroom, to beyond the school gates.”

The 13 schools receiving accreditation from Belong To as LGBTQ+ Safe and Supportive Schools includes Borrisokane Community College; Coláiste Chill Mhantáin; Coláiste Íde agus Iosef, Abbeyfeale; Coláiste Iósaef, Kilmallock; Kingswood Community College; Marino College; Merlin College; Naas Community College; O’Carolan College; Piper’s Hill College; Roscommon Community College; Scariff Community College; and St. Peter’s College.

 

 

ENDS

For further media information please contact Belong To

Sinead Keane, sinead@belongto.org, 087 768 0389

 

Notes to editors

  • Photo Caption (L-R): L-R: Lord Mayor of Dublin, Alison Gilliland; Sinead Garvey, Merlin College; and, Moninne Griffith, Belong To.
  • Belong To: Belong To is the national LGBTQ+ youth organisation. Since 2003, Belong To has worked with LGBTQ+ young people to create a world where they are equal, safe and thriving in the diversity of their identities and experiences. The organisation also advocates and campaigns on behalf of LGBTQ+ youth, and offers a specialised LGBTQ+ youth service with a focus on mental and sexual health, alongside drug and alcohol outreach.
  • LGBTI+ Safe and Supportive Schools Project: LGBTQ+ Safe and Supportive Schools Project was developed by Lisa O’Hagan, HSE and Michael Barron of Belong To. The programme was intensively piloted in 21 post-primary schools in Ireland in 2021. The Safe and Supportive Schools Project is supported by Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI), and is funded by Google.org through the 2019 Impact Challenge on Safety and the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.