not a member? click here to sign up
TACKLING HOMOPHOBIC BULLYING IN SCHOOLS
It is a major cause for concern that half of all LBGT people have considered suicide. And the biggest cause is bullying...
Anne Sexton, 25 Oct 2012
Here is a shocking statistic: half of all Irish LGBT young people have considered suicide. Let’s say it again, in plain English: one in two LGBT people under twenty-five has given serious thought to ending their lives. Not because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender – but because of the high levels of bullying and abuse from their peers.
“Counteracting homophobic bullying in schools is a really core part of our work,” says Carol-Anne O’Brien of BeLonG To, the support group for LGBT young people. “Unfortunately bullying is widespread in schools and research has shown it has a really bad impact on mental health.”
How widespread are homophobic and transphobic bullying? Here are some more shocking statistics from a study funded by the HSE’s National Office for Suicide Prevention: 50 percent of Irish LGBT young people experienced verbal homophobic or transphobic bullying; 40 percent have been verbally threatened; and a quarter have been physically threatened.
To tackle this, BeLong To runs a campaign in schools called Stand Up! However, as with many social programmes, its funding has been cut under government austerity measures. Restaurant owners who are friends and supporters of BeLong To wanted to help and so Bullying Bites was conceived, to help bridge the funding shortfall. In October, participating restaurants will ask diners for an opt-in donation of €1 on their bill.
Anita Thomas of Il Primo was key to the initiative.
“There are an awful lot of young people who experience bullying because of their sexuality and I think it is really important to keep the issue of homophobic bullying on the agenda,” says Thomas.
This, says Thomas, is a human rights issue. “I don’t accept any discrimination, whether it is about sexuality or gender or disability or ethnicity or religion. These are all social justice issues. If I, in my business, can help in a small way by highlighting to our customers BeLonG To’s work, I am happy to do so.”
Bully Bites not only supports BeLonG To financially, The initiative also aims to make people aware of the work the campaign does.