Jan O’Sullivan, TD, Minister for Education & Skills, joins schools across Ireland in Stand Up Awareness Week, BeLonG To’s annual campaign against Homophobic & Transphobic Bullying
Yesterday, Tuesday 21st April, saw the launch of the 6th annual Stand Up! week, organised by BeLonG To, Ireland’s national organisation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) young people.
For the week of 20th – 24th April 2015, BeLonG To has distributed Stand Up! packs to all second-level schools and youth services in the country and the organisation expects that more students, teachers and youth workers will participate in the week than ever before.
BeLonG To’s Stand Up! campaign was identified as one of the key actions schools can take under the Government’s National Action Plan on Bullying. Funded by the Department of Education and Skills, the National Office for Suicide Prevention (HSE) and theDepartment of Children and Youth Affairs, the campaign calls on young people across Ireland to support their LGBT friends.
In 2010, the first year of Stand Up!, BeLonG To distributed 700 Stand Up! educational packs. This number has increased every year. In 2015, in the 6th annual Stand Up! campaign, 3,033 packs have been distributed, largely to second-level schools.
Stand Up! educational packs include information on homophobic and transphobic bullying for teachers and youth workers, especially regarding the mental health difficulties caused by such bullying. The packs also include lesson plans, posters and educational DVDs.
Speaking prior to the launch, Jan O’Sullivan, TD, Minister for Education and Skills said: ‘‘Stand Up! Awareness Week is a vital initiative in building the positive school climates that will prevent bullying in Irish schools. I urge all post-primary schools to participate in Stand Up! My Department greatly values our working relationship with BeLonG To and we look forward to continuing to work with them.’’
David Carroll, Executive Director of BeLonG To, said: “With an intense spotlight on LGBT issues in Ireland at the moment, it is vital to remember that at the end of the day it is often LGBT young people who suffer the most because of homophobia. Young people are coming out in greater numbers, and at a younger age than ever before, so the Stand Up! campaign is needed more than ever”.
Dr. Carol-Anne O’Brien, BeLonG To’s Director of Advocacy said, “We are especially delighted with this year’s new developments in Stand Up. On foot of evaluating Stand Up in 2014, we have introduced a Stand Up Training Blitz. In March 2015 we trained 200 teachers and 134 youth workers across Ireland. Most of the workshops took place at Teachers’ Education Centres, and the enthusiasm and commitment of teachers for tackling homophobia and transphobia has been inspiring. Feedback from these sessions clearly showed that after our training, teachers feel more confident about participating in Stand Up and tackling homophobic and transphobic bullying”.
Dr O’Brien continued, “Stand Up! tackles bullying by bringing a positive message of friendship to all students across Ireland. We hope that it also tells LGBT young people that they are not alone, and they do not have to suffer or witness homophobic or transphobic bullying in their schools.”
In its first year Stand Up! Awareness Week won the support of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD), and in each following year has won support from more and more education partners. The endorsers now include the Joint Managerial Body, the ASTI and TUI, the Institute of Guidance Counsellors, the National Parents Council of Ireland – Post Primary, the Association of Community & Comprehensive Schools, the Education and Training Board Ireland and Educate Together.
For more information on Stand Up! Awareness Week against Homophobic and Transphobic Bullying, 20th – 24th April, please visit www.belongto.org.