Business Leaders Become Super Heroes for BeLonG To

Entrepreneur Danielle Ryan chats with Patrick Ryan and Alison Kershaw from BeLonG To during the Super Hero Network launch in Dublin yesterday. [Image: Photocall Ireland]

Entrepreneur Danielle Ryan chats with Patrick Dempsey and Alison Kershaw from BeLonG To during the Super Hero Network launch in Dublin yesterday. [Image: Photocall Ireland]

Many Irish business figures came together at Dublin’s Lir Theatre yesterday evening to support the launch of the Super Hero Network, which aims to tackle homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools by raising €200,000 to support BeLonG To, Ireland’s national organisation for LGBT youth. 

Led by business woman, entrepreneur and philanthropist Danielle Ryan, key Irish business figures attended the launch event at the Lir yesterday evening, July 18. Building on the success of the Stand Up! anti-bullying Campaign (which has been praised by the United Nations among others) BeLonG To’s Super Hero Network will see business leaders and social entrepreneurs from Ireland, the United Kingdom and United States using their influence to help to deliver yet another ground-breaking campaign.

This work includes bringing the Stand Up! campaign to all primary and secondary schools in Ireland next year, providing support to over 3,500 LGBT young people across the country. This year’s campaign was praised by the Department of Education as a critical part of the National Anti-Bullying Action Plan, and in 2012, BeLonG To’s Stand Up! Video reached 1 million viewers on YouTube, making it the most viewed Irish online PSA ever.

Speaking at the event, Danielle Ryan said:

“I am delighted to join forces with BeLonG To to launch this campaign. The work that BeLonG To do is vital. Ireland should take responsibility for the happiness of its young people, but unfortunately too many LGBT young people experience harrassment and bullying just because of who they are.”

While great improvements have been made for LGBT people in Ireland over recent years, there are many issues where LGBT youth are still amongst the most vulnerable groups in Irish society. Almost 60% of young LGBT people have reported homophobic bullying in their school, with 34% reporting that homophobic comments come from their own teachers. A fifth have missed school at times because they have been afraid to attend, according to a 2009 report. Half of all LGBT young people in Ireland have seriously thought about ending their lives, according to BeLonG To’s Director and Founder Michael Barron, which is “a fact that cannot be ignored”.

BeLonG To's Michael Barron with Danielle Ryan at the launch of the Super Hero Network. [Image: Photocall Ireland]

BeLonG To’s Michael Barron with Danielle Ryan at the launch of the Super Hero Network. [Image: Photocall Ireland]

 “We would like to say a huge thank you to Danielle Ryan and her family for the support and  commitment they have shown LGBT young people,” said Barron. “Her generosity in launching our Super Hero Network is particularly appreciated, as it marks a new phase in our work to end homophobic and transphobic bullying in our schools where business leaders will help us take our campaign to both primary and secondary schools for the first time. The Network is a gathering of committed extraordinary individuals who are dedicated to protecting the right of every LGBT young person in Ireland to grow up safe and respected.”

Speaking about the impact of BeLonG To’s Stand Up Campaign, Alison (16) said:

“I felt so alone. So isolated. And then one day I was walking down my school corridor and I saw a poster. It was about standing up for lesbian young people. That was me. The poster was about me. And in that moment I knew things would be ok. I joined BeLonG To and now I have so many friends and my life is so much better”

For more information on BeLonG To, visit belongto.org

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About Scott De Buitléir

Scott De Buitléir is an author and poet from Dublin, Ireland. He is founder of EILE Magazine, a digital publication for the Irish LGBT community, and has published several works of poetry, non-fiction, and fiction. He lives in Cork with his partner.
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