Two Tipperary secondary schools step-up to create a safe space for LGBTI+ students

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Two Tipperary secondary schools step-up to create a safe space for LGBTI+ Students

Borrisokane Community College and Colaiste Mhuire Co Ed are the first schools in Tipperary to sign up to participate in a new national LGBTI+ Safe & Supportive Schools Project. 

They and 18 other schools nationwide are leading the way by partnering with BeLonGTo Youth Services to undertake its LGBTI+ Safe & Supportive Schools Project, a ground-breaking whole-school approach to creating a school environment that is fully inclusive of LGBTI+ students, thus changing the lives of thousands of young people across Ireland.

BeLonG To Youth Services is the national organisation supporting LGBTI+ young people in Ireland.

Findings from its Schools Climate Survey 2019  indicate that an alarming 73% of LGBTI+ students feel unsafe at school.

While 68% of LGBTI+ students stated they hear anti-LGBTI+ remarks from other students, a shocking 48% reported hearing homophobic remarks – and a further 55% reported hearing transphobic remarks – from teachers and staff members. 

Speaking at the launch of the programme, Mr. Matthew Carr, Borrisokane Principal  says: “All schools should prioritise the safety and wellbeing of LGBTI+ students. We hope that in adopting this programme we can create an environment in which LGBTI+ feel safe and supported by all of our staff and their classmates. This feeds in to our mission policy -  inclusivity for all members.”

Speaking at the launch of the programme, Denis Quinn, CMCO Principal says: “ In Colaiste Mhuire Co Ed, our work to make our school a safe place for all students is an on-going and continually evolving process. Every year, we celebrate stand up week with our LGBTI+ students and staff, and encourage our straight allies to stand up for their friends. By taking part in this new programme, we hope to solidify our commitment to maintaining and improving our work in this area. We are proud to nail our colours to the mast, to support all in our community.”

The Safe & Supportive Schools Project spans people, policies and practices; its pioneering holistic approach means systematic positive supports are put in place across six key areas; 

  • Staff Organisation & Development 
  • Policy & Planning 
  • Curriculum 
  • Safe & Supportive Environment 
  • Community Partnership
  • Direct Support To Young People 

BeLonG To provides Programme Coordination Training for senior management and LGBTI+ awareness training for all staff members, a Toolkit and Resource Pack with everything needed to become an accredited school. Ongoing mentorship support from BeLonG To’s Education and Training Coordinator.

The project is not exclusively focused on the school but also working with the community outside the school gates, including any local LGBTI+ youth projects/groups, parents and community organisations to promote a wider LGBTI+ inclusive community. 

This project is supported by Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) and funding has been made available by Google.org through the 2019 Impact Challenge on Safety and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.  

Moninne Griffith CEO, BeLonG To Youth Services says: “Our school years help to shape who we are and who we can become. We are proud to support these schools as they begin their journey towards becoming a school that is fully inclusive of LGBTI+ students. LGBTI+ young people need to feel equal, safe and supported at school so that they can live healthy lives and thrive at school. Today we celebrate Borrisokane Community College and Colaiste Mhuire Co Ed for taking the lead and joining our new national project to ensure that school is a safe and supportive space for all students.” 

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.

Learn more about the BelonG To LGBTI+ Safe and Supportive Schools Project. T: 01 670 6223 E: training@belongto.org