- On September 15, 2017
Cara-Friend welcomes the long-awaited DE report into the experiences of LGBT students at post-primary level in Northern Ireland. While Cara-Friend had expressed reservations around the survey which was conducted, mainly regarding the age range (16-21 years old), we are pleased to see that the report has finally been published. Cara-Friend has lobbied for this information to be released for almost two years.
The statistics of most concern are:
- 48% of LGBT students aged 16-21 experienced bullying in school because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
- 67% of LGBT students aged 16-21 do not feel welcome or valued in their school because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
- 63% of LGBT students aged 16-21 feel their school had a negative impact on their emotional health and wellbeing.
Cara-Friend is the only LGBT organisation in Northern Ireland which works on a daily basis with post-primary schools in an effort to improve the lived experiences of LGBTQ+ youth in those schools. Our LGBTQ+ Inclusive Schools Programme was launched last September and since then 20 schools have engaged fully with it, with a further 30 schools availing of training for their teachers on LGBTQ+ Awareness.
There is clearly a lot of work to be done to ensure that school – a place where young people spend a significant amount of their time and lives – becomes a safe and accepting place for people, regardless of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. This report shows that this is not at present the case for LGBTQ+ young people.
Our LGBTQ+ Inclusive Schools Programme is available to all post-primary schools across Northern Ireland for free. It includes:
- ShoutOut Anti-Bullying Workshops for students, aimed at tackling homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying and negative attitudes;
- LGBTQ+ Awareness Teacher Training, aimed at improving the practice of teachers and other school staff to make it more inclusive of, and responsive to, the needs of LGBTQ+ young people;
- Organisational Support for Schools, where school staff can contact Cara-Friend via phone or email to avail of support around issues relating to sexual orientation and/or gender identity;
- One-to-One Support for Students, where schools or parents can refer to Cara-Friend youth service to seek support for LGBTQ+ young people experiencing difficulty and/or poor mental health as a result of their experience as LGBTQ+; and
- Gay Straight Alliance Support, where schools can contact Cara-Friend for assistance in setting up and maintaining inclusive Gay Straight Alliance clubs.
Cara-Friend will continue its work in schools across Northern Ireland with both staff and students to tackle these worrying statistics and to make the lived experiences of LGBTQ+ youth in our schools safer, healthier and happier. To learn how your school can get involved, please contact Declan on firstname.lastname@example.org.