Minister of Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone launches the National LGBTI+ Youth Strategy – a world first.
The National LGBTI+ Youth Strategy has identified the urgent need for support for LGBTI+ young people particularly in rural areas and at school. BeLonG To Youth Services welcomes the strategy and its recommendations to create a safer,
supportive and inclusive Ireland for LGBTI+ young people.
According to 2017 research commissioned by BeLonG To and GCN, some 70% of young people do not feel safe at school. The 2016 LGBTIreland Report highlighted that one in four missed or skipped school to avoid negative treatment due to being LGBTI. One in four considered leaving school early, and approximately one in 20 quit school.
Moninne Griffith, Executive Director with BeLonG To says the organisation identified the serious challenges experienced by LGBTI+ young people, and subsequently worked to secure the development of the Strategy:
“We are proud that through our lobbying and advocacy work, we were instrumental in the development of this Strategy. The journey to the launch of the Strategy has been insightful, inspiring and at times heart-breaking as we listened to the voices of LGBTI+ young people across Ireland, and heard about the isolation, harassment and bullying they experience because of who they are or who they love.
The next 3 years will be about implementation of this Strategy to ensure that LGBTI+ young people are visible, valued and included in schools and communities wherever they live in Ireland. At BeLonG To we know that growing up LGBTI+ isn’t all rainbows. We have educated schools on how to support LGBTI+ students through our annual Stand Up Awareness campaign reaching over 151,000 students last year. In 2017, we supported 37 LGBTI+ youth groups across Ireland connecting rural and often isolated, LGBTI+ young people with an LGBTI+ peer support group led by professional Youth Workers.
We welcome the publication of the National LGBTI+ Youth Strategy and want to thank Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone for leading the way and bringing it to Government. We also want to thank the Independent Chair of the Strategy’s Oversight Committee Una Mullally for her passion and dedication to this process. We thank the members of the Oversight Committee, member of our Advisory Group, our National Network Members and all our allies in children and youth organisations who fed into the process. Lastly, we want to acknowledge the thousands of LGBTI+ young people who shared their experiences as part of the consultation process. The hopes and dreams of LGBTI+ young people are tied up in the pages of this strategy and we look forward to it coming to life through implementation over the next 3 years.”
The National LGBTI+ Youth Strategy is a 3-year action orientated strategy designed to remove the barriers that LGBTI+ young people face based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. Some 4,000 young people across Ireland fed into the strategy.
BeLonG To Youth Services is the national organisation supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI+) young people in Ireland. Since 2003, BeLonG To has worked with LGBTI+ young people to create a world where they are equal, safe and valued in the diversity of their identities and experiences. The organisation also advocates and campaigns on behalf of young LGBTI+ people, and offers a specialised LGBTI+ youth service with a focus on mental and sexual health, alongside drug and alcohol outreach. www.belongto.org