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20th Oct 2020

LGBT+ spokesperson hails support given to trans students coming out in Irish schools during lockdown

Rory Cashin

“There is a shift in schools to be more practical and inclusive of trans students.”

Heading back to school in 2020 was been difficult for just about every student in Ireland, but there are some students heading back into the classroom with the additional concern of coming out as a member of the LGBTI+ community, and not being entirely sure how your fellow students, as well as the school staff, might respond.

This year of all years, having a strong support system is very important and necessary for all of us, but the events of this year in particular are also why many people don’t have their regular support systems in place.

Speaking to Moninne Griffith, the CEO of BeLonG To, a support service for LGBTI+ young people in Ireland, it actually hasn’t all been doom and gloom, with reports like the following, especially in regards to young trans people in Ireland:

“Since the schools went back, I’ve heard some really positive stories about young people coming out in school, and having support.

“So young people coming to school this year, who may have been in school as a boy last year. They’ve come to school as a girl this year, and I’ve been hearing some really positive stories about the support that that young person has received from teachers and staff and other students in the class.

“I’d say that is not universal, that experience, but it is really wonderful to be hearing those stories trickle in from teachers and from parents, and indeed from young people themselves; that there is a shift by many schools to be way more practical and pragmatic and inclusive and welcoming of trans students.”

Additionally, with Level 5 restrictions for the next few weeks, it does mean that movement is limited even more than usual, which means none of the usual support outlets that the LGBTI+ community might normally have access to.

However, with more young people online more often during the restrictions, it does mean that more and more young people are reaching out to BeLonG To for assistance.

Griffith told us that “The good news story for us is that we have a lot more people young people reaching out for support, because they’re at home more, and online more, searching for LGBT or gay or trans or lesbian or whatever, up pops BeLonG To, and they are given contact details for us.”

“So that is happening nationally, and it is good to hear that.”

For more details on how to contact BeLonG To, you can head here.

This interview has been edited slightly for clarity.

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