Two years on from the historic Marriage Referendum success, national youth LGBT support group, BeLonG To, is experiencing unprecedented demand for its vital support and advocacy services. The organisation urgently needs to secure funding to meet current demand, and is asking the public to support young people across Ireland, by donating online this week at belongto.org
Moninne Griffith, Executive Director with BeLonG To, says that there has been a 100% increase in the number of people accessing the organisation’s services in the past year:
“Each week, we have 150 young people coming through the doors in our Dublin services and hundreds more accessing support through the national network of groups, delivered in partnership with other agencies. As well as young people themselves, parents, social workers and teachers are also seeking information. There is no doubt there has been a huge change in Ireland. But we have to be realistic and remember that there are many thousands of people who continue to face harassment and prejudice because of their sexuality or gender identification.
“We regularly support young people who have been kicked out of their home because their parents do not support them. Members of the LGBT community may have achieved equality on a key issue at a high level; but we cannot afford to let apathy set in. There are young people – and indeed older people – across every part of this country who are still afraid to acknowledge who they really are.”
A recent report commissioned by BeLonG To reflected somewhat conflicting attitudes of 209 parents and 204 students:
- Just two thirds (67%) of parents say they would feel comfortable if their son/daughter were lesbian, gay or bisexual
- Less than half (44%) of parents would feel comfortable if their child was transgender
- 71% of parents would feel comfortable working closely with someone who is transgender
- 68% of parents and 60% of students agree that transgender people should be able to change their legal documents
- Just 44% of parents and students agree that equality has been achieved for gay, lesbian and bisexual people
- Almost six in ten parents (56%) have tried to talk to their child about LGBT topics
[From: LGBT Parents and Students Attitudes Report; Empathy Research. Fieldwork conducted December 2016 – 209 parents, 204 students].
It is estimated that 5-10% of the population in Ireland are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. BeLonG To offers a range of services for young LGBT people aged 14-23, with a focus on ‘wraparound’ support. The organisation works in collaboration with other agencies, including those offering mental health care and intervention, and sexual health support. BeLonG To also offers life skills education, where young people can build resilience, and develop key skills essential for dealing with the challenges they face in life.
Anyone who wishes to support the work of BeLonG To this week can:
- Donate online: www.belongto.org
- Organise a company fundraising event
- Support the Dublin collection on Saturday May 27 from 11am – 2pm, on Lower Liffey Street, Dublin 1
More information on all of the organisation’s services, as well as stringent governance standards, is available on www.belongto.org
To view the BeLonG To the Future video, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=9sF45u58qm4&t=6s