Homophobic and Transphobic Bullying: A Serious Child Protection Issue states Special Rapporteur

Homophobic and Transphobic Bullying: A Serious Child Protection Issue states Special Rapporteur 

Thursday, 11 July 2013 

The Special Rapporteur on Child Protection Dr Geoffrey Shannon’s sixth report to Government  highlights the serious issue of homophobic and transphobic bullying, the devastating impact it can have on young people’s lives and describes it as a serious child protection issue. 

Welcoming the report BeLonG To’s Executive Director Michael Barron said: 

It is hugely significant that the Special Rapporteur on Child Protection’s Report to Government spotlights the seriousness of homophobic and transphobic bullying and states that they should be considered serious ‘child protection issues’. This sends a very strong message to government departments, schools, communities and families that urgent action needs to be taken to end this harassment and to protect LGBT young people and young people who may be perceived as LGBT.  As a result of the ongoing failure to address this issue many young people face daily harassment and violence.” 

The Special Rapporteur’s report highlights that schools face particular liabilities in relation to bullying, including homophobic and transphobic bullying. The time that LGBT youth are in the education system is the most vulnerable time in their development and lives. The child protection aspect of homophobic and transphobic bullying demonstrates the urgent need for every school in Ireland to develop targeted policies and actions to address these concerns.’’ 

It is important to note that homophobic and transphobic bullying also takes place outside of school – in communities, families and online. With this in mind it is now more important than ever that LGBT youth work services, which provide low-cost life saving interventions to young people, are supported and resourced. Any LGBT young person experiencing homophobic and transphobic bullying should be able to access professional support in their area. There is also a clear role to be played by the new Child and Family Agency in supporting LGBT young people and their parents in ‘coming out’ safely and in overcoming bullying. The legislation establishing the new Agency should have equality/non-discrimination as one of its guiding principles”. 

BeLonG To is calling for a comprehensive LGBT Youth Action Plan to address the needs of LGBT young people in Ireland, including bullying and support.  This would create a joined-up strategy that would bring together the work of various government departments, education partners, youth services, child and family services and health services”, concluded Barron. 

Read a copy of the full report online here.