Awareness week aims to end homophobic bullying of young people

Almost 35 Kilkenny secondary schools and youth organisations are expected to join thousands of young people across Ireland when they ‘Stand Up’ to raise awareness of homophobic bullying during Stand Up! Awareness Week on Homophobic Bullying from March 5-11.

Almost 35 Kilkenny secondary schools and youth organisations are expected to join thousands of young people across Ireland when they ‘Stand Up’ to raise awareness of homophobic bullying during Stand Up! Awareness Week on Homophobic Bullying from March 5-11.

Organised by “BeLonG To” youth services, the annual campaign aims to raise awareness of homophobic bullying and the issues that affect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people.

The Drum youth centre located at MacDonagh Junction is also hosting activities to mark the week, with arts, crafts, baking, videos and interactive activities. Young people ages 12-14 are invited to attend on March 7 from 4.30-6.30pm, while those aged 15-18 are invited to attend on March 8, 9 and 10 from 4.30-6.3pm each day. There will also be a free beach-party-themed Beach Ball in The Drum on March 10 from 7-10pm for those aged 15-18.

As part of the BeLonG To campaign, more than 1,400 secondary schools and youth organisations in Ireland were issued with Stand Up! Packs that include background information on homophobic bullying for teachers and youth workers, educational DVDs, a discussion guide, posters, stickers and fundraising activity suggestions to support BeLonG To, a registered charity that supports LGBT young people age 14-23 years of age.

“Stand Up! is about supporting everyone – gay and straight, to take a stand against homophobic bullying,” said BeLong To director Michael Barron. “This year we have the minister for education and two giants of the sports world – one gay and one straight – championing the cause. We can all do something during Stand Up! Week to show LGBT young people that we care.”

“Homophobic bullying is the most common form of harassment experienced by young people,” he said. “A recent study funded by the HSE found that 50% of LGBT people under 25 have seriously thought about ending their life; 20% of LGBT people under 25 have attempted suicide at least once; and 27% have self-harmed at least once. LGBT people were found to be at risk, not because they are LGBT, but because of homophobia and discrimination they face. Stand Up! Awareness Week creates positive understanding of LGBT young people and their issues. It is the perfect opportunity for secondary schools and youth organisations in Kilkenny to play a major role in addressing homophobia, not just in the classroom but in the wider community.”