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Minister Quinn Joins International Sports Stars to Launch Awareness Week Against Homophobic Bullying

Minister Quinn Joins International Sports Stars to Launch Awareness Week Against Homophobic Bullying 

Friday, 02 March 2012 

Almost 1,700 Irish secondary schools and youth organisations across Ireland are expected to ‘Stand Up’ against homophobic bullying when they take part in Stand Up! Awareness Week on Homophobic Bullying, 5th – 11th March 2012. The annual campaign will be officially launched in City Hall this evening is organised by BeLonG To Youth Services and is supported by the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals. It aims to raise awareness of homophobic bullying and the issues that affect Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) young people.   

A recent study* funded by the HSE’s National Office for Suicide Prevention found that 50% of LGBT people have seriously thought about ending their life, 20% have attempted suicide, and 27% have self-harmed. LGBT young people were found to be at risk, not because they are LGBT, but because of the homophobia and discrimination they face.   

Commenting on the campaign, Minister Quinn said, “I commend BeLonG To for the crucial leadership role that they play in combating homophobic bullying and the vital support they provide to LGBT young people across Ireland. My Department greatly values our important working relationship with BeLonG To and I urge all post-primary school to participate in Stand Up! next week. Homophobic bullying can have very serious effects on young people’s health and education. In line with the programme for Government, my Department and myself are committed to developing a roadmap towards eliminating homophobic bullying from our schools. We believe that all young people have the right to a safe and equal education.” 

This is the third year of the campaign which sees more than 1,700 secondary schools and youth organisations throughout Ireland being issued with Stand Up! Packs which include background information on homophobic bullying for teachers, an educational DVD, fun and interesting learning activities for students, posters, a discussion guide and fundraising activity suggestions to encourage secondary schools and youth organisations to support the campaign. 

Michael Barron, Director of BeLonG To said, “Homophobic bullying is the most common form of harassment experienced by young people. Simply put, homophobic bullying puts young people’s lives in danger. Stand Up! is about supporting everyone – gay and straight, to take a stand against homophobic bullying. It is the perfect opportunity for secondary schools and youth organisations across Ireland to play a major role in addressing homophobia, in the classroom and in the wider community. The fact that Minister for Education and Skills Ruairí Quinn TD is launching the week, and two giants of the sports world – one gay and one straight, are championing it sends out a very strong message. We can all do something during Stand Up! Week to show LGBT young people that we care.

As part of today’s launch, BeLonG To is holding a flag day collection in Dublin city centre and is asking members of public to make a donation to this vital cause. For those not living in the city centre but who still want to donate they can support the campaign by donating €2.50 by Texting STANDUP to 57500. BeLonG To is a registered charity that supports LGBT young people aged 14-23 years. 

Ben Cohen, MBE, England World Cup Rugby Champion and Founder of the Ben Cohen Stand Up! Foundation said, “I am delighted to be in Ireland supporting BeLonG To’s world-class work to combat homophobic bullying of young people. This bullying can have devastating effects on young people’s health and we just can’t tolerate it anymore. All young people should be able to be themselves, whether it’s in school, on the sports pitch, or at home. I urge everyone in Ireland to Stand Up! against homophobic bullying and to support BeLonG To’s work, which in global terms, is leading the way in innovation and impact, making sure that LGBT young people are safe and supported. 

Speech by John Lyons TD on behalf of the Minister for Education & Skills Ruairí Quinn TD