I welcome the publication today (Tuesday) of the Action Plan on Bullying, its implementation will help to promote diversity and inclusion which will go some way to eradicating homophobic bullying in schools.
The publication of the Action Plan on Bullying today by the Minister for Education, Ruairí Quinn TD, and the Minister for Children, Frances Fitzgerald TD, sets out a clear path for schools in how they deal with bullying behaviour among students.
The Plan, which sets out 12 actions, and 13 recommendations which are to be considered, provides solid steps for teachers and parents in getting a handle on bullying, once and for all. Ensuring that our teachers are supported, in terms of the training they receive and the systems that are in place in schools, in dealing with intimidating behaviour which sees one child victimise another is key.
One element of the Plan deals exclusively with homophobic bullying, the practice of stereotyping and the stigmatisation of LGBT young people. Being a teenager is tough at the best of times; getting to grips with your sexuality, as a young gay man or woman, in an environment which is hostile can have a significant impact on a child’s development and sense of worth.
I was delighted to see that support is to be provided by the Department of Education for the Stand Up! Awareness Week Against Homophobic Bullying which is being run by BeLonG To Youth Services. The work done by GLEN (Gay and Lesbian Equality Network), in conjunction with the Department, in producing material to assist principal and teachers to combat homophobic bullying is also to be commended. The importance of allowing young gay men and women to live a life that is free from intimidation and to grow and flourish so that they can reach their full potential is no less than any child, irrespective of sexual orientation, deserves.
If teachers, and parents, foster an attitude of respect for all and teach children that diversity is to be celebrated, a culture of inclusivity and acceptance can grow. Practical measures such as the Department engaging with book publishers in relation to stereotyping in school materials are a practical response to changing mind-sets and promoting social equality.