Senior Irish Politicians Send Message of Support to Young LGBT People on IDAHO
Thursday, 17 May 2012
Today 17th May, the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO), Irish politicians responsible for the Education sector have issued a strong statement of support to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people.
“In marking IDAHO day, we stand together with all LGBT young people in Ireland. We reaffirm our determination to ensure that all LGBT young people will have a safe, supportive and affirming education,” said the joint statement by Minister for Education, Ruairi Quinn TD, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald TD, Fianna Fail’s Education spokesperson Brendan Smith TD, Sinn Fein’s Sean Crowe TD, and Finian McGrath TD on behalf of the Dáil Technical Group.
“Together,” the politicians’ statement of support continues, “we can assign homophobic and transphobic bullying to the history books.”
“This unprecedented cross-party support for young LGBT people and their combined determination to tackle homophobic bullying sends a very strong signal of acknowledgement, of support and of affirmation to young LGBT people,” said Dr. Carol-Anne O’Brien, Advocacy Coordinator of BeLonG To Youth Services and Sandra Irwin-Gowran, Director of Education Policy at GLEN.
The 17th May International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO), when Governments and communities in over 100 countries around the world are taking action to end discrimination against LGBT people. This year’s theme is Combating Homophobia and Transphobia in Schools.
“Eliminating homophobic and transphobic bullying are the shared goals of the Government and of all political parties. We can no longer accept a culture where young people learn of their identity in an unwelcoming, hostile or threatening environment. It is our duty as political leaders, and the duty of school leaders and the whole school community to ensure that we create a supportive and affirming environment for LGBT young people, and for all young people,” said Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn TD.
“We know from Irish research that homophobic and transphobic bullying are critical issues in Irish schools. We also know that there is a direct correlation between homophobic bullying and suicidal behaviour amongst LGBT young people such that young people who experience homophobic bullying may be more likely to attempt suicide,” said Sandra Irwin-Gowran.
“It is so important for any LGBT young person to know they are not alone,” said Carol-Anne O’Brien. “If a young person is experiencing homophobic or transphobic bullying, we want to tell them: ‘It’s not your fault; you don’t have to change who you are’. They can call and email us at BeLonG To, we’re here to help” (website and phone number below).
Today also sees a Forum on Bullying in the Department of Education which will discuss homophobic and transphobic bullying and other forms of bullying. The Forum will be addressed by both Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn TD, and Minister for Children, Frances Fitzgerald TD.
The Department of Education have recently established a Working Group on Bullying, where tackling homophobic bullying is the first phase of the group’s work. BeLonG To and GLEN are members of the working group, which aims to develop concrete measures to tackle homophobic bullying.
Yesterday, 16th May, at UNESCO in Paris, Michael Barron from BeLonG To spoke at the launch of the first UN level manual for combating homophobic and transphobic bullying. Irish initiatives, including those developed in partnership with BeLonG To, GLEN, The Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs feature prominently in this global good practice guide.
Also today to mark IDAHO Day, GLEN, BeLonG To and other LGBT organisations appear before the Joint Oireachtas Justice and Equality Committee at 10am to discuss the issues faced by LGBT people in Ireland today.
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