FINE Gael Cork South Central Deputy and Chairman of the Party’s LGBT group, Jerry Buttimer, has today (Wednesday) said that the best way to combat homophobic bullying and to deal with the victimisation of gay men and women in Ireland is through education. Deputy Buttimer was speaking on the eve of International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO).
“The best and most effective way of building a society that is tolerant of all people, irrespective of race, creed or sexual orientation is undoubtedly through education. The theme of this year’s IDAHO, which is supported by a range of global organisations including UNESCO, is ‘Combating Homophobia In Education and Through Education’.
“Homophobic bullying in schools and colleges, based on a student’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, continues to be a significant problem worldwide. Harassment of this nature can have a harrowing effect on a young person’s life, leading to early school dropout, poor academic performance and, in the worst case, a threat to the young person’s life due to the psychological impact of the abuse. It must be noted that homophobic bullying of teachers is a problem which also persists.
“Organisations in Ireland, such as BeLonG To, which has recently launched its ‘Stand Up’ campaign against homophobic bullying in schools, are working hard to focus attention on this issue and to ensure a safe and more accepting school environment for our all of our young people.
“It is up to each and every one of us to speak out where we see injustice and to help build an Ireland where equal rights and opportunities are afforded to all citizens; where all children are cherished equally.
“Irish attitudes are changing. We must build on the progress being made by fostering a tolerance of all people from an early age through education. By working together we can ensure that ours is a world where everyone is free to grow and develop and to fulfil their full potential.”