Government Ministers Join Forces With GAA Sports Star Donal Óg Cusack to Stand Up!

Government Ministers Join Forces With GAA Sports Star Donal Óg Cusack to Stand Up! 

Wednesday, 06 March 2013 

Today, Wednesday, March 6th, Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn TD, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald TD and Cork GAA sports star, Donald Óg Cusack joined forces to Stand Up against homophobic and transphobic bullying in Ireland. The 4th annual Stand Up! Awareness Week is organised by BeLonG To, Ireland’s national organisation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) young people. For the week of March 4th – 11th, BeLonG To have provided vital educational materials to all post primary schools and youth services in the country, as well as organising training  events for teachers and youth workers in how to support LGBT young people and tackle bullying. 

This year The Department of Education and Skills is supporting and resourcing Stand Up! as one of the key recommendations in the Action Plan on Bullying released by Minister Ruairí Quinn TD last January. As part of the week long initiative, more than 1,800 secondary schools and youth organisations throughout Ireland were issued with Stand Up! Packs, which included background information on homophobic and transphobic bullying for teachers and youth workers, educational DVDs, a discussion guide, lesson plans, posters and other promotional material.  

Michael Barron, Director of BeLonG To and Person of the Year Award winner at the 2013 Gay and Lesbian Awards (GALAS), said: “Homophobic and transphobic bullying are some of the most common forms of harrassment experienced by young people and they can have a seriously devastating impact on their lives. Today it can be tough for young people to escape discrimination as they are exposed to it in school, in their community and online. It is vitally important that young people, their families and friends know that we are here for them and they can contact us if they have concerns. It is also important to note that as a country we really are starting to stand up to homophobic and transphobic bullying. This can be seen through the huge grassroots support for the 4th annual Stand Up! campaign from schools and communities throughout Ireland, and the political and policy support of both the Minister for Education and Skills and the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. By standing up together we really are making a difference in the lives of so many young people.” 

Speaking at today’s launch, Minister Quinn said: “I am committed to eliminating homophobic and transphobic bullying in our schools. This is why supporting and resourcing BeLonG To’s Stand Up! Awareness Week is a key element of the Department’s Action Plan on Bullying. We know that prejudices, such as homophobia, are an underlying cause of much of the bullying experienced by students and so this campaign is helping to make the lives and school experience of many young people better.  Stand Up! is particularly aimed at supporting LGBT students who, research shows, experience disproportionate levels of bullying.  No young person should be allowed to suffer or to have their education suffer simply because of prejudice towards who they are.  I look forward to continuing to work in partnership with BeLonG To to make schools safer places for LGBT students. Together we can assign homophobic and transphobic bullying to the history books.” 

GAA icon and Stand Up! Ambassador, Donal Óg Cusack, commented: “Whether it is on the field of play or in our nation’s schools, nobody should be subjected to discrimination or cruel treatment of any kind. LGBT young people throughout the country deserve the right to be treated with the same common decency and respect as anybody else. I am delighted that BeLonG To once again invited me to be an Ambassador for this vital initiative. We owe it to the LGBT young people of this country to stand shoulder to shoulder in proclaiming that bullying is totally immoral and unacceptable.”  

For more information on the Stand Up! Awareness Week on Homophobic and Transphobic Bullying which runs from March 11th – 15th March 2013 visit www.belongto.org. Join the conversation @BeLonG_To. Stand Up! is directly funded by the Department of Education and Skills for the first time in 2013.