‘BeLong To Stand Up Awareness Week’
By Emily Goss Guildea
Last week held a vital opportunity for second-level schools, youth services and Youthreach’s across Ireland to come together and take a stand for the LGBTQ+ community. ‘Stand Up Awareness Week’, is about taking a stand against homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic bullying.
It has opened many doors for people to educate themselves on the LGBTQ+ community, create safe spaces and support for those within the community.
‘It is heart-breaking that one in five young LGBTI+ people face bullying and that 73% of young LGBTI+ students feel unsafe at school’, BeLong To Youth Services stated.
BeLonG To Youth Services is a nationwide organisation supporting young people in the LGBTQ+ community. They offer a specialised LGBTQ+ youth service, with focus on mental and sexual health, and drug and alcohol support.
BeLong To Youth Services’ campaign also corresponded with Trans Awareness week, the week was full of opportunities to make a change within schools to prevent bullying against the LGBTQ+ community.
Student from Ardgillan Community College, Balbriggan, Co. Dublin, who wishes to remain anonymous, explained what their school has done for Stand Up week. “The canteen is filled with rainbow decorations, there are posters on the doors of classrooms, the stairs have been decorated the rainbow colours and in classes there have been discussions around the LGBT community”. In their SPHE (Social, personal and health education) class, homophobic and transphobic bullying was explained to the students and how to prevent it. There is also an art competition taking place in the school in which the students can create images raising awareness for the LGBTQ+ community. The school tweeted about the events that have gone on this week, “1I made some bunting for Stand Up Week. Students decorated the bunting with everything that makes them proud about themselves. #standupweek”.
How can you get involved? You can get your school involved by going onto the BeLong To website and filling out the ‘Stand Up 2021 Digital Pack Download’ form. You can also raise awareness for the LGBTQ+ community this month by creating posters, getting involved in LGBTQ+ events and having open discussions within your circle and educate each other. There are many charities you can donate to across Ireland in support of the LGBTQ+ community, for example, the National LGBT Federation, LGBT Ireland, BeLong To and ShoutOut, to name a few.The Department of Education tweeted in support of the campaign, “This week, hundreds of second-level schools across Ireland will participate in Stand Up Awareness Week – a campaign from BeLonG To Youth Services to celebrate and recognise the LGBTI+ community. It’s not too late for schools to get involved.”