Sinn Féin Anti-Bullying Bill Important Opportunity to Highlight Homophobic Bullying in Schools

Sinn Féin Anti-Bullying Bill Important Opportunity to Highlight Homophobic Bullying in Schools 

Tuesday 22, January 2013 

Joint Press Release by BeLonG To Youth Services and the Gay & Lesbian Equality Network. 

This evening Jonathan O’Brien, the Sinn Fein spokesperson on Education will introduce a Bill in the Dáil which seeks to provide greater legal guidance for schools to address bullying. 

The debate on Deputy O’Brien’s Bill provides a welcome and important opportunity to develop knowledge and understanding of bullying in schools and to support schools in preventing and tackling bullying behaviours. In particular the debate creates an opportunity to build knowledge of the serious mental health impacts of widespread forms of identity-based bullying, such as homophobic and transphobic bullying,” said Michael Barron, Executive Director of BeLonG To Youth Services. 

We know from Irish research that homophobic and transphobic bullying are critical issues in Irish schools. We also know that there is a direct correlation between homophobic bullying and suicidal behaviour amongst LGBT young people such that young people who experience homophobic bullying may be more likely to attempt suicide,” said Sandra Irwin-Gowran, Director of Education Policy at GLEN. 

Eliminating homophobic and transphobic bullying are the shared goals of all political parties. The introduction of this Bill, and the forthcoming publication of the groundbreaking Action Plan on Bullying from the Minister for Education’s Anti-Bullying Working Group, demonstrate a combined determination to tackle homophobic bullying. Importantly, both of these initiatives send a very strong signal of acknowledgement, support and affirmation to LGBT young people who have felt isolated for too long,” said Michael Barron 

There has been significant progress over the last number of years in partnerships between the Department of Education, the Education Partners, GLEN and BeLonG To, for example both BeLonG To and GLEN were members of the Anti-Bullying Working Group established by the Minister for Education. Schools, principals and teachers now have policy frameworks to include LGBT young people in anti-bullying policy and practice, and BeLonG To’s annual Stand Up! campaign provides schools with a unique opportunity to tackle homophobic and transphobic bullying by encouraging friendship between LGBT young people and other young people. 

BeLonG To’s annual Stand Up! campaign will run in schools across Ireland from 11th – 15th March 2013. 

A copy of the Bill can be read online here.