Minister for Education Opens Groundbreaking EU Conference on Homo & Transphobic Bullying in Schools

Minister for Education Opens Groundbreaking EU Conference on Homo & Transphobic Bullying in Schools 

Wednesday, 20 February 2013 

Joint Press Release by BeLonG To Youth Services, the Gay & Lesbian Equality Network and the European Region of the International Lesbian & Gay Association (ILGA-Europe). 

The Minister for Education, Ruairí Quinn TD will today (Wednesday 20th February) open an EU conference on homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools. 

The Conference is first ever EU-level conference on homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools. It is being held in association with the Irish EU Presidency and the Department of Education and is organised by the European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA-Europe) and Irish LGBT organisations GLEN and BeLonG To. 

Opening the conference, Minister Quinn said “Education plays a key role in supporting LGBT young people and also tackling the underlying prejudices which can lead to homophobic and transphobic bullying.” 

Gabi Calleja, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe, said: “There is a solid evidence of homophobic and transphobic bullying taking place in schools all across Europe. The consequences are devastating for many young people and their families – social exclusion, isolation, drop-out, underachievement, poor mental and physical health and in some cases, self-harm and suicide.” 

The Minister for Education and the Department have shown a high level of commitment to eliminating homophobic and transphobic bullying in Irish schools, and through the hosting of this conference as part of the EU Presidency, are providing leadership across Europe to tackling these critical issues,” said Brian Sheehan, Director of GLEN.  

There is a growing understanding of the seriousness of the issues for young LGBT people, both in Ireland and across Europe. The Department of Education has recently published a national Action Plan on Bullying that fully integrates measures to tackle prejudice, including homophobia and transphobia which are the root causes of much bullying. The lessons being learned in Ireland can contribute to further developments across Europe, much as we can learn from innovative and successful practices in other countries,” said Michael Barron, Director of BeLonG To Youth Services. 

This conference is the first ever EU-level conference addressing homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools. It brings together EU, UNESCO and national policy makers, teachers, school leaders and NGOs to jointly debate and look for methods of tackling these forms of bullying. 

Minister for Education & Skills Ruairí Quinn T.D. said, “I want to reiterate my personal commitment to tackling homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools and pay tribute to the work being done by ILGA-Europe and GLEN & BeLonG To here in Ireland.  I look forward to continuing the successful partnership we have forged, along with the Department of Education & Skills and the Education partners on this important agenda.” 

We hope this conference will provide a good starting point for joint comprehensive EU level strategy to tackle homophobic and transphobic bullying.  A lot has been done in the EU at national level, next step is for the EU to take a lead” concluded Gabi Calleja from ILGA-Europe. 

BeLonG To’s Stand Up! Don’t Stand for Homophobic and Transphobic Bullying campaign will run in schools across Ireland  from 11th – 15th March 2013 and is supported by the Department of Education and Skills. 

 

A full copy of the Minister’s speech is available online here.