Two Galway schools are leading the way in creating a safe, supporting and inclusive environment for all students
Merlin College and Coláiste Bhaile Chláir are the first two schools in Galway to sign up to participate in a new national LGBTI+ Safe & Supportive Schools Project. Along with 18 other schools nationwide, they are partnering with BeLonGTo Youth Services to take part in the LGBTI+ Safe & Supportive Schools Project, a comprehensive whole-school approach to creating an environment that is fully inclusive of LGBTI+ students, thus changing the lives of thousands of Irish youth.
BeLonG To Youth Services is the national organisation supporting young LGBTI+ people in Ireland. Findings from its Schools Climate Survey 2019 indicate that an alarmingly high proportion of LGBTI+ students feel unsafe at school, at 73%! 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. It is clear that this is an area that needs support and increased awareness across all facets of life.
Speaking at the launch of the programme, Mr. John Cleary, Principal of Merlin College said: “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 is a very positive endeavour and we are delighted to be a part of it in a very meaningful way as it helps us all in our school community to live up to our mantra which is ‘Merlin College: Where nobody is different because everybody is!”
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 Merlin College 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 Merlin College for taking the lead and joining our new national project to ensure that school is a safe and supportive space for all students.”
Learn more about the BelonG To LGBTI+ Safe and Supportive Schools Project by calling 01 670 6223 or emailing email@example.com