Intersex Awareness Day


INTERSEX 101 & HOW TO BE AN ALLY!

By Clara, ShoutOut Executive Team Member and Intersex Activist

Definition: Intersex people have biological traits that aren’t easily categorized as typically male or typically female. These differences occur in one or more of the five aspects of sex - external genitalia, internal gonads, chromosomes, hormones, and/or secondary sex characteristics. As you can imagine, this means that people with a very broad spectrum of traits all fall under the umbrella term of intersex. It also means that’s it’s really normal to be intersex! We represent about 1.75% of the population - which is the same as the global percentage of redheads.

In some cases this can be described as a ‘blending’ of male and female traits. It is easy to assume that this means all intersex people have bodies which are outwardly very ambiguous, but actually there can be little to no external indication that a person is intersex (because their ‘blending’ is at DNA level). 

The Intersex Flag

The Intersex Flag

Intersex Issues: In short, because it can be difficult for people to accept that intersex bodies are usually healthy ones, with some added quirks, we are at risk for medically unnecessary interventions. These are done for aesthetic purposes or to facilitate (heterosexual) sex. Unfortunately, statistically these interventions occur most commonly before the age of 2, meaning that our consent is also not obtained. 

Intersex surgeries are not by any means the only issue we face, but if I had one wish for my community it would be to end early intervention where surgeries can be postponed. It is by far the most pressing fight we are facing.

What it’s Like to be Intersex: Before they even brought me home from the hospital, my parents were told that I had an intersex condition. Of course, this being Ireland in the 90s they actually told my parents I had a ‘syndrome’, that it was nothing to worry about, they should simply raise me as a girl and ‘keep an eye on things.’


Throughout my childhood I had countless medical interventions, so much poking and prodding I can’t even quantify it. It’s only in my 20s that I’ve developed the courage to question my doctors. Nowadays, I hold them to account for mistakes that were made in my treatment, which have gone on to provoke gender dysphoria. I am more comfortable in insisting that they respect my bodily integrity and autonomy. 

It was only when I was around eighteen that I discovered that my ‘syndrome’ fell under the umbrella term of intersex, meaning there were other people like me. There was a community to find, advocacy to do. 

How to be an Ally?

  • Educate yourself (learn about intersex from intersex people). 

  • Use intersex-inclusive language. (If you watch your language for trans inclusivity, then you already are doing this, thank you!)

  • Educate your community.

  • Do not make the assumption that intersex is a medical condition.

  • Include us in your discussions about human rights. Keep working on improving the GRA/ LGBTI strategy, keep demanding that healthcare improve! We stand to win when the broader community does too.

  • At the same time, try to amplify the voices of intersex people when speaking about issues that effect them.

  • Remember that our bodies are not a way to win arguments about gender theory! There are many other ways to prove that gender is not binary!

  • Remember that being intersex may or may not be part of their identity

  • Do not assume it is their duty to discuss being intersex at any time, or that they’re comfortable to discuss all aspects of being intersex

  • Phrase questions broadly

  • Ensure that your questions don’t serve to stigmatize or fetishize 


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Key Goals

  • Full implementation of human rights, bodily integrity & self-determination for intersex people

  • Legal prohibition of non-consensual medical & psychological treatment; medical practitioners or other professionals should not conduct any treatment to the purpose of modifying sex characteristics which can be deferred until the person to be treated can provide informed consent

  • Full protection against discrimination & the adoption of » sex characteristics « as a protective ground

  • Education of society on intersex issues from a human rights perspective

Resources: If you’d like to learn more (and I really hope you would!) then you’re in luck. Thanks to wonderful intersex activists there’s now heaps of online resources. A few of my personal favourites are below: 

https://interactadvocates.org/

https://oiieurope.org/

https://www.them.us/story/intersex-allyship-101

http://4intersex.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/4intersex-Common-Arguments-from-Doctors.pdf

Intersex Ireland

Intersex Ireland

You can also check out intersex ‘influencers’ like Pidgeon Pagonis and Emily Quinn on youtube, or join an open facebook group run by InterAct/OII/Intersex Ireland, just for example. If you have a question not best answered by Google, or are an intersex person looking to reach out, please don’t hesitate to get in touch using the team@shoutout.ie email, or intersex.ie@gmail.com.

To all my lovely intersex people out there, happy awareness day, I hope to meet you soon. This one’s for us. 

ShoutOut at Pride flying the Intersex Flag

ShoutOut at Pride flying the Intersex Flag






ShoutOut is Recruiting!

ShoutOut is recruiting! We're looking for dedicated individuals to join our executive team. The executive team helps oversee the daily running of ShoutOut's activities and plays a part in the charity's strategy and decisions relating to policy, fundraising, and volunteer training/recruitment. This is a great opportunity to give back to the LGBTQIA+ community, gain voluntary experience, and make some great friends!

We will accept applications until the 7th of October 2019 at 5pm

The ShoutOut executive team requires a commitment of an average of 4 hours a week. We are hoping to expand our fabulous current team so we can achieve even more this year! To find out more about what we do, read our 2019 annual report!

The Team

Here is what some of our current team members have to say about being involved!

Being a member of the ShoutOut executive team has been a really rewarding experience. It’s varied and exciting work that can range from improving our resources, to heading off on a road trip somewhere to train a new group of volunteers - just for example! What’s more, it’s not all giving, you get to build your own skills (in presentation, communication etc) and have loads of fun at the same time. 10/10 would recommend.

- Clara

Táim bródúil agus fíorshàsta a bheith ag obair le ShoutOut. Tá ár gcuid oibre fíorthábhachtach do dhaoine óga - bíodh siad LADT+ nó eile. Bíonn roinnt deiseanna agam mo chuid Gaeilge a úsáid freisin- i gceardlanna, ag aistriú agus ar na meáin shóisialta!

Volunteering with ShoutOut has been some of the most enjoyable and fulfilling work I've ever had the pleasure to be a part of. I've travelled around Ireland doing workshops, have gained invaluable experience and skills and learned a lot! I couldn't recommend volunteering with ShoutOut more highly if I tried!

- Lisa

Being on the executive team over the last year has been one of the most fulfilling things I have done. The opportunity to effect change on the running of the charity is hugely beneficial because as an active volunteer I can see the fruits of the exec team's labour.

- Spencer

Any questions please email team@shoutout.ie

ShoutOut 2019 Annual Report

SHOUTOUT VOLUNTEERS DELIVER LGBTQ+ EDUCATION TO 12,000 YOUNG PEOPLE

In the past school year, ShoutOut volunteers have delivered more than 400 workshops in LGBTQ+ awareness and inclusion to 12,000 young people in schools and youth groups around Ireland. Seeking to make up for the lack of LGBTQ+ education in the Irish curriculum and to address the issue of homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools, members of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies volunteer with ShoutOut to spread a message of acceptance and empathy. 


ShoutOut’s school workshops challenge students to consider the difficulties their LGBTQ+ peers still face in the classroom. Volunteers begin each workshop by explaining how they came to terms with their own identity, and their experiences of being LGBTQ+ in an Irish secondary school. Students then take part in a series of exercises designed to educate them on the full spectrum of LGBTQ+ identity, and to prepare them to support their classmates who may be struggling. Many have a perception that Ireland became a fully equal country following the 2015 marriage equality referendum, but as recently as 2018, 77% of LGBTQ+ young people reported coming out at school as their main source of anxiety. 

ShoutOut’s annual report, released today, details the number of workshops delivered and the organisation’s operations in full from July 2018 - July 2019. Working with just one part-time staff member, the Dublin-based charity has had a national impact in those 12 months, with 70% of workshops delivered outside the capital, including 126 workshops delivered in the North of Ireland by their partner Cara-Friend. In addition to working in schools, ShoutOut delivers in-depth training to teachers, social workers, youth workers, parents, and guardians to ensure these key figures are adequately prepared to support the LGBTQ+ young people in their care. 

“I have been a volunteer with ShoutOut for almost 4 years now and can confidently say I have thoroughly enjoyed every second of it. I know how scarce information regarding the lives of LGBTQ+ people in [Irish secondary schools] can be… Simply being there as a proud gay person can be a lifeline in itself.” - Ross Hunter, ShoutOut volunteer

As an organisation, ShoutOut has grown significantly since launching as a pilot programme in 10 Dublin schools in 2012, and as of July 2019 has added a second staff member to the team in a bid to increase and diversify operations to better serve LGBTQ+ young people in Ireland. However, volunteers will always be at the heart of the charity, and it draws strength in the diversity of its volunteer force in representing the full spectrum of LGBTQ+ experience. If you’d like to make a difference for young people in Irish secondary schools, you can get involved. The next ShoutOut volunteer training will take place in Dublin’s Central Hotel on September 16th at 18.30, followed by training in Cork Gay Project on September 18th at 18.30. 

“There is nothing small about ShoutOut. In the past 12 months alone we delivered more than 400 workshops. 67 active volunteers made this happen. We reached 98 schools, trained over 500 youth workers and spread a message of acceptance and inclusion to 12,000 students, all in the past year.” - Bella FitzPatrick, Executive Director

ShoutOut at the UN!

MD of ShoutOut, Bella, has taken some time away and is currently in New York working with OutRight Action International and spent the past two weeks in the UN at the Convention on the Status of Women. Bella writes about her experiences here:

Bella outside the UN HQ

Bella outside the UN HQ

What is the Convention on the Status of Women?

I was delighted when I started working with OutRight Action International (OutRight) as they are an amazing organisation, working on LGBTQI equality across the globe, with staff in 6 countries. The convention on the status of women (CSW) is a coming together of countries and people from civil society to discuss women’s rights and within this format, we discuss the rights for LBTI women around the world. Nearly 9000 people participate in CSW every year.

How are LGBTQI rights represented at CSW?

Activists fighting for LGBTQI rights come together at the beginning of CSW and share resources and information. While we’re working on very specific issues in our home countries, here we are united in the advancement of LGBTQI rights on the global level. The first thing I did at CSW was listen to Norway speak on behalf of an LGBT core group; a group of countries committed to advancing LGBTI rights (Ireland is not, unfortunately, a part of this group). You can read or listen to this statement here.

Your country’s office is like any representative, you can contact them and urge them to take action. The side who are against LGBT people do this all the time, and try to hold back our rights so getting involved is another way to participate in the liberation of LGBT people.

Norway Speaking on behalf of the LGBT Core Group in the General Assembly Hall

Norway Speaking on behalf of the LGBT Core Group in the General Assembly Hall

OutRight held two amazing events about LGBT rights: one of Transgender and Gender non conforming people and one about LBTI people and access to public services. These events were greatly attended and it gave me optimism for the appetite for progressive policies.

OutRight Panel on LBTI people’s access to public services

OutRight Panel on LBTI people’s access to public services

Complacency and the Anti LGBT agenda at CSW

Unfortunately, often countries can gloss over serious issues and act like everything is fine for the LGBT people in their country. For example representative from the UK spoke at length at the many advances for LGBT people living in the UK with no mention of the lack of marriage equality in Northern Ireland. That’s not to mention the countries which have high levels of violence against LGBT people acting like everything is fine.

There were anti-LGBT (specifically there was more than one event which was transphobic)  and anti-feminist events held as well by far right and religious organisations which espouse an outdated and hetero-patriarchal view point. If we stop fighting at the UN then we risk the reversal of all of our hard won victories. These groups fight against marriage equality, gender recognition, recognition of rainbow families and comprehensive sex education.

The UN Secretary General & UN Women are asked about LGBTQI rights

There was a town hall with the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, and the LGBT contingent was able to ask what the UN planned to do for LGBT rights. While the reply was vague, he did speak about having to push back against the push back, and not let our rights go backwards which is very important at the moment.

LBTI Caucus meeting with ED of UN Women

LBTI Caucus meeting with ED of UN Women

We also had a meeting with UN Women about LGBT rights and were able to ask questions about trans inclusion, regional funding initiatives, intersex genital mutilation.

OK, but how does this impact the work of ShoutOut?

While the UN feels very far away from the work in local schools done by ShoutOut it’s actually far more linked than it seems. The way in which the UN adopts policies on LGBT people, their families, and their needs will impact the way all the UN agencies will fund issues pertaining to LGBT people. While we are relatively fortunate in Ireland compared to other countries we still have a long way to go to see full legal and social equality for the members of our community and this must be fought at local, national and international level. CSW has a large focus on access to education, and ShoutOut would argue that when schools are prejudiced against you, you are being denied your right to an education.

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Reforming Our Schools

Here at ShoutOut we’ve known for a long time about the shortcomings for LGBTQ+ students in the Irish education curriculum. Indeed our very name ‘ShoutOut’ derived from the loud absence LGBTQ+ students faced about their identities in classrooms across the country.  

This is not surprising. Some parts of the curriculum have not been updated for two decades. Indeed we continue to hear this message of outdated and unfit for purpose from young people in schools every week.

That’s why ShoutOut loudly welcomes the proposed reforms from the Oireachtas Education Committee on Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) in our schools published last week. 

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The report recommends that in the new programme, both secondary and primary school children would be taught about “LGBT specific sexual health issues and the presentation of LGBT relationships without distinction as to their heterosexual counterparts.” About time.

Interestingly external providers of sex education in schools should be regulated and accredited by the HSE and the Department of Education. This is “to ensure consistency and accuracy of information to students.” While ShoutOut does not focus on sex education we are very pleased to know that those who do opine on this topic must soon be qualified to do so.

These are important and welcome reforms. We thank the Committee and we look forward to continuing to work with the National Council on Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) as we have done previously so that our mission to make every school on the island of Ireland a welcoming place for LGBTQ+ youth becomes a reality. 

Introducing our new Interim Director, Aifric!

ShoutOut is delighted to welcome our new interim Director, Aifric Ní Chríodáin! Aifric has been volunteering with ShoutOut for the past 5 years and has a wealth of knowledge and experience.

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I am so delighted and privileged to be working with ShoutOut, a cause which has been close to my heart for a long time. I can’t wait to continue Bella’s remarkable work and spend 2019 making things better for LGBTQIAP+ young people on the island of Ireland.
— Aifric Ní Chríodáin

We say a “see you later” to Director, Bella, who is going on leave for 6 months to work in LGBTQ+ rights in New York.

We are honoured to have Aifric on the ShoutOut team, she will be overseeing all of ShoutOut’s activities as our sole member of staff.

You can contact Aifric on director@shoutout.ie!

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ShoutOut is Hiring!

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ShoutOut is hiring a interim managing director, could this be your dream job?? If you wish to apply please send your CV and cover letter to the Chairperson, Declan Meehan, on Declan@shoutout.ie, by November 16th at 5pm. The role description is below. Questions can be directed to Bella@ShoutOut.ie

Managing Director

Role Description

 

Introduction

ShoutOut is a charity working on the Island of Ireland to end the exclusion of LGBTQIA+ people by providing educational workshops. ShoutOut was founded in 2012 and operated as a voluntary body until December 2017. ShoutOut has one member of staff, the managing director, who is wholly responsible for the day to day running of ShoutOut with oversight from the Board of Directors.

Location

The role is located in our office in Outhouse, 105 Capel Street, Dublin 1.

Line Management

Chairperson of the Board of Directors of ShoutOut.

Key Duties

School Workshop Management

Overall management for ShoutOut’s school workshop programme including outreach to schools, calendar management, coordinating volunteers to attend workshops, following up, crisis management and monitoring quality.

Training

Delivering and monitoring training of volunteers, teachers, youth workers, social workers as well as training within corporate organisations including continuous evaluating of training practices. Training requires individual tailoring for different clients, research and assisting with developing policies for organisations. Training will also require travel across the island of Ireland.

Fundraising

Exploring new fundraising opportunities, applying for grants and creating and organising fundraising events.

Reporting, Administration and Team Management

Administration includes financial management and accounting, social media management, correspondence between various stakeholders. Regular reporting to the chairperson, and the board of directors. Management of the voluntary executive team by delegating tasks and ensuring the professional development of the executive team.

Representation of the Organisation

Speaking on behalf of the organisation at various events, forums and meetings to ensure LGBTQ+ inclusion in education is given a voice at a strategic level with partner organisations, government departments and agencies, as well as with the wider LGBTQ+ community.

Key Skills and Attributes

·       A comprehensive understanding of, and passion for, LGBTQIA issues including rights, best practice and policy.

·       Project management and coordination.

·       Public speaking.

·       Excellent communication skills.

·       Experience in the charity sector.

·       Financial administration.

·       Problem-solving.

·       Crisis management.

Remuneration

€25,000 per annum pro rata at 20 hours per week.

Duration

7 months from December 1st 2018 to June 20th 2019.

ShoutOut @ ILGA Europe

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ShoutOut’s Managing Director, Bella FitzPatrick, and ShoutOut’s Chairperson, Declan Meehan were both delighted to be able to attend ILGA Europe’s annual conference which was held in Brussels in late October.

Declan and Bella represented both ShoutOut and Cara Friend while at ILGA Europe. The theme was Politics For Change and focused on the importance of legislative progress for the LGBTQIA+ community across Europe and Central Asia. Bella writes about her experience at ILGA Europe here:

On the first day we were welcomed to Brussels by the lovely ILGA team and we were more than ready to dive in! It was great to meet all the bi+ activists at the space for bisexual people to meet each other before the conference kicked off.

Bisexual pals at Brussels

Bisexual pals at Brussels

The first meeting we went to was hosted by IGLYO where we met people doing similar work from all over Europe and Central Asia. We heard about IGLYO’s amazing work indexing the school environment in terms of LGBT inclusion which you can see here.

The next day at the opening panel, we were addressed by the VP of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans who spoke on the solidarity needed for LGBT rights from society at large, as everyone benefits from equality.

We were then treated to an amazing speech by Ireland’s very own Ailbhe Smyth as she spoke about recent journey towards equality which has taken place here in Ireland.

From left: Brian Sheehan; Co chair ILGA Europe, Niamh Cullen; European Commission, Bella FitzPatrick; ShoutOut Managing Director, Declan Meehan; ShoutOut Chairperson, Deputy Director of Cara Friend, Ailbhe Smyth; absolute hero

From left: Brian Sheehan; Co chair ILGA Europe, Niamh Cullen; European Commission, Bella FitzPatrick; ShoutOut Managing Director, Declan Meehan; ShoutOut Chairperson, Deputy Director of Cara Friend, Ailbhe Smyth; absolute hero

We attended a very interesting session hosted by GLSEN on research which has been conducted in countries throughout Europe detailing the climate in schools for LGBT students. This lead to a meeting with everyone who works in the area of schools. We met with people from Iceland, Italy, Germany, Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania and Denmark who do similar work to ShoutOut. We are now in touch and will be sharing knowledge and resources.

Meeting with people working in education

Meeting with people working in education

It was another fantastic year at ILGA, we learned a lot and met a lot of great people! Next year ILGA will be held in Prague and we hope to attend again!

ShoutOut Study Trip to Malta!

ShoutOut goes to Malta!

Last week ShoutOut Managing Director, Bella, joined the staff of Cara Friend to go to Malta on a study trip. Cara Friend is ShoutOut's partners in Northern Ireland, they offer ShoutOut workshops as part of their safe schools' programme. We were all very excited to go to Malta, where some of the best legal recognition and protections for LGBTQIA+ people can be found. 
 

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A bit about Malta

Malta has an interesting history when it comes to LGBTQIA+ rights. Same-sex sexual activity was decriminalised in 1973, a full 20 years before Ireland. It is currently ranked 1st by ILGA out of 49 European countries for LGBT rights.

Malta has some of the best protections against discrimination. It was the first country in the world to outlaw sterilisation and invasive surgery on intersex people in 2015. In 2014 it was the first European state to add recognition of gender identity into their constitution as a protective measure. Malta's gender recognition laws are based on self-declaration like Ireland. In 2016 the law was amended to allow 16-year-olds to have their gender recognised without parental consent. Malta has had marriage equality in September 2017. 

Still, as we know from our own journey, legal equality doesn't mean social equality. There is still an outright ban of MSM donating blood. And according to a recent survey, only 40% of people felt comfortable being out in the workplace.

Meetings

Our first meeting was with Clayton Mercieca, who heads up Allied Rainbow Communities, the organisation which puts on Pride in Malta, among many other activities such as networking and campaigning! Pride has grown a lot in Malta over the years; 2 years there were 1000 attendees, and last year it was 2500 attendees. We're very sad we didn't correlate our trip with Pride! Clayton told us the majority of schools in Malta are secular, whereas in Ireland the majority of schools are run by religious organisations. Things may be great on paper for Malta, however, mental health among the LGBTQIA+ community is still a problem which the community as working hard on at the moment. 

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Our next meeting was with Drachma, a Catholic LGBTQIA+ organisation. Drachma has two main branches: the LGBTQIA+ branch and the Parents branch. We met with Chris who heads up the LGBTQIA+ branch and Joe who works on the parent's branch. They work hard in Malta and also are apart of international organisations: Christian LGBT network and a European network for parents. 

It was incredible to hear of the work they have done to create an inclusive environment for LGBTQIA+ people and parents within the church, as there are of course LGBTQIA+ people of all faiths and none. 

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Bonding


As well as meeting groups in Malta, the trip allowed some quality bonding time with our colleagues in Cara Friend! ShoutOut delivered 108 student workshops in schools in Northern Ireland in the last school year, all given by Cara Friend staff, who are trained by ShoutOut. It was amazing to hear of the incredible youth work, training and advocacy being done by all at Cara Friend! 

Hopefully, we'll get to welcome our queer Malta siblings to Ireland one day in the future!

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10,000 STUDENTS REACHED!

We are a little overwhelmed to announced that we completed 349 workshops this school year - that's 10,000 students who received a free workshop tackling LGBTQ+ bullying!

229 workshops took place with students in Ireland, 108 with students in Northern Ireland and 12 workshops were in schools with the teaching and administrative staff. 

We've come a long way this year, delivering more workshops and reaching more people than ever! 

Check out our workshop numbers over the years: 

Number of school workshops

These were done nearly entirely by volunteers! 61 volunteers to be exact! We are always looking for more people to get involved so if you'd like to help out for this school year please get in touch. 

Workshops in Northern Ireland look place in parntership with Cara-Friend who deliver ShoutOut workshops as part of their Safe Schools Programme. 

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We hope to continue to reach as many, and more, students this year. But we will not be able to without your help. We do all our own fundraising and receive no government funding at all. So please consider donating or volunteering with us to help us reach 10,000 new students this school year!

Some photos from this school year

Some photos from this school year

We are currently reviewing the content of our student workshop to make sure it's as up to date and accurate as possible. The subcommittee reviewing the content consists of representatives from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, and intersex communities as well as two youth workers and a medical doctor! 

The Student Guide Subcommittee at their last meeting

The Student Guide Subcommittee at their last meeting

Finally, a huge thank you to everyone who has supported ShoutOut over the past year! Support comes in many different shapes; businesses who book corporate workshops which fund the school workshops and kind individual donations from amazing folk and most importantly the volunteers who give up their time to give the workshops. Thank you, one million times, thank you!

(no, you're crying)

ShoutOut's Pride Tour!

Here at ShoutOut we're absolutely bananas about workshops!

If there's a group of people sitting near us we are liable to start some ice-breaking games out of nowhere! So despite giving 349 (!!!!!) school workshops this school year we just couldn't help ourselves and thought; sure, will we just give some more workshops so? 

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So we hit the road, to give our popular ABCs of LGBT workshop to youth workers, social workers and parents/guardians in locations around Ireland!

We teamed up with local organisations to host these talks and it was so great to meet these amazing activists from around the country. 

We worked with Gay Cork Project, Bi+ Ireland, Teach Solais, 8 Rays Leitrim and Donegal Youth Service!

 

 

We absolutely could not have done this without the support of Arthur Cox who funded The entire tour! So a huge thank you to Arthur Cox for their amazing support!

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If you would like a workshop for your organisation please get in touch! We'd be happy to help! 

ShoutOut's submission to the joint committee regarding the Relationship & Sex Education curriculum

Brief introduction

ShoutOut is a registered charity which delivers workshops in schools to tackle LGBTQIA bullying and exclusion. We started in 2012 and since then have delivered nearly 700 workshops across the Island of Ireland. That’s a reach of over 20’000 students. As well as student workshops we also deliver educational training to teachers, parents and guardians, youth workers and social workers. We feel education is the best way to tackle exclusion and stigma. We have spent many hours with young people across the Island discussing LGBTQIA issues, and the lack of inclusivity in RSE is very apparent. Due to this we feel strongly that any update to the curriculum must to LGBTQIA inclusive and positive.

 

Factual Information

Research

The statistics around LGBTQIA young people’s mental health and sense of belonging is troubling. A recent study* found that LGBTQIA young people where twice as likely to self harm, three times as likely to attempt suicide and four times as likely to experience severe stress, anxiety and depression than their non-LGBTQIA peers.

This, in no small part, is due to a feeling of being isolated, and “other”, which is compounded by the lack of discussion about LGBTQIA identities in schools. It only stands to reason that clear, non-bias discussion of LGBTQIA identities will help bridge the gap which has been formed over decades of silence.

Pertaining specifically to school, this same report showed only 20% of LGBTQI students felt they belonged completely in their school, leave 80% who did not. 67% of young people witnessed LGBTQIA bullying in school. 1 in 4 missed or skipped school to avoid negative treatment due to being LGBTI, and 1 in 4 considered leaving school early.

Young people of Ireland are entitled to an education, but when their place of education is unsafe for them they are effectively being denied this right. We feel inclusive RSE is one way to tackle this problem along with methods currently being carried out by ShoutOut such as teacher training and open spaces for discussion in workshops.

*LGBTIreland Report, 2016

Experience of ShoutOut

We have spent many hours discussing LGBTQIA issues with secondary level students and as such have made several observations.

Firstly, in the vast majority of cases, we are informing both teachers and students alike of the existence of intersex people. Considering intersex people make up 1.7% of the population (Blackless, Melanie; Charuvastra, Anthony; Derryck, Amanda; Fausto-Sterling, Anne; Lauzanne, Karl; Lee, Ellen (March 2000). American Journal of Human Biology.) there is an unjustifiable lack of knowledge about this.

Because the young people have never heard of variance in sexual characteristics, and often the teachers confirm they have also not heard of it, they can be reluctant to accept this information in spite of it being factual. This shows a big gap in education which must be addressed.

We also observe a fundamental misunderstanding about trans identities at all levels of secondary school leading to isolation, bullying and sometimes physical violence for trans young people. Many times, ShoutOut workshops are the only time trans identities will be discussed in the school and only for those who were present that day, in a school which invited us in. This type of education should not be left to chance like this and has led to fostering of intolerance among many young people towards trans people.

We have noted that much of the homophobic attitudes expressed stem from a complete lack of understanding about consent. Particularly observed in all boys schools, homophobia is at first an aggressive display of hatred. However, when this is explored further many boys express that they would be unwelcoming to anyone who came out because they are afraid that they will sexually pursued by a gay classmate despite the lack of them experiencing this, or knowing of anyone having experienced this. Their lack of understanding around consent makes them feel that they will not be asked for consent and will be harassed just because someone is attracted to their gender. (One would then be concerned about the young women these boys interact with).

Specific Recommendations

Biological Sex

Biological sex is constantly being forced into a false dichotomy in schools. People have no real sense of the many variations that exist in sexual characteristics and as such people feel like they are “other” if their sexual characteristics differ to what they have been told to expect. We feel RSE should include information on the variety of ways humans can display sexual characteristics and the reality that chromosomes do not always determine sex, and sex does not always determine gender.

Although this is not the focus of this exercise, ShoutOut feels strongly that this should be included the science and biology curriculum as well, so LGBTQIA identities can be woven into the narrative of learning.

Gender, and how it differs from sex

Gender and sex should be discussed and differentiated in RSE. As well as this gender roles should be discussed, how they change over time or due to culture, and how people should not feel defined by them.

Minority orientations

Minority orientations are those outside heterosexuality including, but not limited to, lesbian, gay, bisexual, asexual, and pansexual. Because these identities are in the minority this means people are often assumed to be heterosexual until told otherwise. Because of these assumptions, people who are apart of minority orientations can feel isolated.

 Trans identities, gender identity and gender expression

Transgender identities should be fully explained giving students a comprehensive education in gender alignments, gender identity and gender expression. Specifically, the way gender identity and expression are different. Young people need to know that many trans people have known their gender identity from as young as 3 years old, and when they come out as trans they are not suddenly deciding something but aligning their gender identity and their gender expression in a new way.

Trans people may or may not take medical steps in their journey, but whether or not they will, or have, is not anyone’s business but their own.

Gender identity should not be expressed as a binary concept. As mentioned above sex is often wrongly forced into a pure dichotomy, and similarly so is gender. Gender exists on a spectrum and the concept of non-binary or third genders have been seen in virtually every society since written record.

Some people identify with the sex assigned to them at birth (cisgender), some people do not identify with the sex assigned to them at birth (transgender), but everyone has a gender identity and gender expression.

Sexual activity as a spectrum

Sexual activity is a spectrum of different acts and should not be limited simply to the act of intercourse. Many people have different wants and desires which will manifest in a variety of ways with their partners, or with themselves.

Because young people are taught that sex is one specific act, those who have disabilities which preclude them from taking part in that act feel excluded. Sex means different things to different people, with the common unifying factor being consent between individuals.

Similarly, not experiences sexual desire but may experience different forms of attraction.

HIV and stigma

Many young people think only gay and bisexual men have HIV, and do not realise that it is a condition anyone can be living with. In 2016, men who have sex with men made up 51% of diagnoses, with 28% among heterosexuals, 16% unknown, 4% among intravenous drugs drug users and 1% mother to child transmissions.

RSE should include information regarding the effective treatment of HIV. They should know that someone with HIV who is taking medication may have an undetectable viral load and therefore will not transmit the virus.

Although it is beyond the purpose of this exercise, we feel the HIV and AIDS epidemic in the 1980s should be apart of the history curriculum.

Fluidity of identities

It should be highlighted that identities, including gender identity and sexual orientation, are not always a static concept and people can change over time. If someone’s identity does change over time that is no reason to be disrespectful of it. There should be no stigma attached to a shift in identity which occurs later in life, as many young people may have adults in their life that come out and be confused by this change.

Similarly, all identities should be respected and not challenged. In particular, bisexual people face much discrimination under the idea that it is a “phase” that someone will grow out of. Many studies show that bisexual people make up the majority of the LGBT community* but even the number of bisexual people does not stop the stigma around this identity.

While most bisexual people will identify as bisexual for their entire lives, they are still faced with being erased as either gay or straight depending on the gender of their romantic partner.

*http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2016/images/01/06/nhsr88.pdf

Assumptions

As humans we all make assumptions, every day. It’s part of how our brains work, to fit things into categories so we can assign information about it from past experiences. However, sometimes our assumptions are wrong and that’s OK. We feel this is an important concept to be introduced in RSE as it greatly pertains to relationships and personal wellbeing.

This is particularly applicable to LGBTQIA people because the unifying factor between all the identities contained in LGBTQIA is that it is outside what is assumed of people. People assume that people are heterosexual, or cisgender, or perisexual (non-intersex), or allosexual (not asexual), or monosexual (not pansexual or bisexual). This is why we have the concept of “coming out”; LGBTQIA people have to let people know that they are not what has been assumed.

 

 

 

 

 

Join the ShoutOut Board of Directors!

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We’re currently accepting applications for the role of Director. It’s a great opportunity to join a fun and committed team and make a difference in the LGBTQ+ community.

 

 

What is the Board of Directors?

The primary role of the Board of the Directors is to oversee the direction of the organisation. Unlike the Executive Team, the Board is not generally involved in the day-to-day administration (booking workshops, assigning volunteers etc.) but instead makes decisions regarding the broader policies, procedures and focus of the organisation. It is also responsible for the sustainability and strategic development of the organisation.

What’s involved in the role?

Your primary responsibility would be to attend the monthly ShoutOut board meetings. At these, the board receives updates from the Executive Team, votes on any important changes and assesses what needs to be done next! Directors also take on a variety of other tasks when required i.e. assisting with grant applications, fundraising, writing the annual review etc. The role is flexible and can be adjusted to your own interests and time commitments but it’s important that you be ready to lend a helping hand with whatever job crops up. This is also a voluntary role.

Who are we looking for?

There are no specific requirements for this role and we hope to receive applications from a diverse range of candidates with different backgrounds and experience levels. If you are motivated to improve the lives of LGBTQ+ people then you are eligible! We do however particularly welcome applications from individuals with experience or interest in the following areas:

·   Transgender Rights and Equality

·   Secondary and Primary School Education

·   Corporate Social Responsibility

·   Social Work and Youth Work

·   Charities Governance

How do I apply?

Please send a CV and cover letter to our Chair, Declan, at declan@shoutout.ie by May 15th.

If you’ve any questions, you can also contact Declan at the above address.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Meet a ShoutOuter - Spencer Christie

We've now completed 213 workshops this school year! These are all carried out by our incredible volunteers. Spencer is 22, currently studying French & Drama in TCD. He is our of our most committed volunteers, always happy to go to a school when he definitely has other things he needs to do! Here is what Spence has to say about volunteering with ShoutOut.

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When I first heard about ShoutOut, I knew I wanted to get involved. I luckily had had a really good time being out as gay in secondary school, but I was always acutely aware that some of my peers in other schools around the country weren’t getting as easy a ride. Now, a 22 year old Arts student with plenty of free time on my hands, getting to visit schools all over the country in an effort to make things better for queer students and school communities in general is how I get my kicks.

The most enjoyable aspect of working with ShoutOut is having any preconceptions I might have of a school based on its geographical location, its patronage or its gender makeup blown apart. I am consistently surprised and delighted by how well-informed and involved today’s teens are in advocating for queer rights and being allies to their classmates. But that’s not to say that our work as volunteers isn’t necessary. At a time where the internet is the primary source for second-level students to research what their schools and their curriculum is failing to educate them about, our role is to be an approachable and friendly face to provide accurate and real-world information.

If you haven’t done so already, give volunteering a go. It’s one of the most rewarding and beneficial experiences for both yourself and the students you get to talk to, and no matter how you come away from a workshop feeling, you’ll have definitely made an impact to someone’s life in that school.

200 workshops complete since September!

We have completed 200 school workshops since the start of the school year! We could not be more grateful to the dozens of volunteers who made this possible! Honestly, they each gave up their time to get to a school when they definitely had other things they needed to do, but they chose to do this and we're so so so appreciative! 

These 200 workshops represent hundreds and hundreds of voluntary hours. Most of these workshops were with secondary school students but this also includes the workshops we've done this year with parents and guardians and teachers as our three side approach to creating a safe school environment. 

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This means we've reached about 6000 young people, across 18 counties, and we're far from done! We still have many workshops coming up next week and loads after the Easter break so watch this space!

If you're a student, parent/guardian, teacher or youth worker and you would like to request a workshop please do not hestitate to contact Bella on bella@shoutout.ie.

Again a huge thank you to all our volunteers! 

ShoutOut @ The Lush Summit 2018!

Well don't we feel like the luckiest of ducks! Last week we got to attend the infamous Lush Summit in London. 

Lush has been the most incredible supporter of ShoutOut for years and years! In the Henry Street and Graphton street branches they regularly sell their Charity Pots with the funds going to ShoutOut. We've made a lot of school visits purely because of the support from Lush and we couldn't be more grateful!

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So how excited were we to go to the gathering of the campaigns and initiatives that Lush support (and some exclusive Lush products to boot!). Near the Tower of London we entered this vegan nirvana, and met the most incredible people!

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Finding ourselves very at home in the "Queer Cafe" we got to chat to some of the amazing people behind Mermaids, a group supporting families of trans people. We then attended a talk from Bisi Alimi about the nature of homophobia in Nigeria, the staunchly held gender roles, and the wonders of love. 

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After a vegan burrito we were fuelled to hear more! But we were invariable starstuck by meeting (and hugging!) Mara Keisling, the founder and executive director of the National Centre for Transgender Equality in the US. She spoke about trans rights in the US, and about Lush's campaign in support of trans rights. 

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Well, then we charged our phone by riding a stationary bike, a few more vegan snacks and back into the fold! 

Next we hear from PROUD from the Czech republic who advocate on behalf of LGBT seniors, something which is sadly often overlooked. We heard from Louise Hooper who literally wrote the book on LGBT refugees and spoke about the invasive way refugees are asked to "prove" their gender identity and/or sexual orientation to be granted refugee status. 

Humbled and mind thoroughly blown we returned to Ireland to continue our work in educating young people and those who work with young people, to take the "?" out of LGBTQIA. 

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A ShoutOut to Irish Designer, Roberta Murray

We are beyond chuffed that Irish Designer, Roberta Murray, has teamed up with ShoutOut to create this beautiful limited-edition tote bag, with all proceeds going to ShoutOut! 

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This goregous bag will be available this week from Designist on Georges Street for €12.50. It makes the perfect Valentines Day Gift for yourself or a loved one! 

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Thank you Roberta! We love it!

ShoutOut to my teenage self: Robbie Lawlor

ShoutOut to my teenage self is a series of letters from inspiring figures in the LGBT community and allies to themselves as teenagers. Our fourth contributor is Robbie Lawlor.

Robbie Lawlor has spent the last few years trying to break the silence and stigma around sexual health and HIV. He believes our vision of reaching, Zero New HIV Infections, Zero AIDS Related and Zero Stigma & Discrimination by 2030 can be achieved. As the worlds biggest Youth Power advocate, he believes that using youth voices will be paramount in making these goals a reality. Robbie works for Youth Stop AIDS, ActUp and European AIDS Treatment Group. He's currently fighting for PrEP to be subsidised by the HSE. Follow and support Robbie's work on twitter: @Robbie_Lawlor

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Dear Robbie,

Right now I know you are having really conflicted feelings. You have had girlfriends, you have romantic feelings for women, you are even (kind of) sexually attracted to them. Right now you don’t fully understand why your friends are so obsessed with getting girlfriends and talk about sex all the time. You won’t fully understand why your friends say they love their girlfriends or feel heartbroken when they break up. You don’t really think about it. You seem to think that maybe you just don’t have it in you to feel as strongly about women and sex like they do. It will be another three years till you figure out that it is because you were looking for all those feelings in the wrong gender.

You will be angry because you wish you grew up with all those experiences, but with men. Don’t fret though, those feelings for men will come. Your future relationships will be great. You will fall in love. You will have sex that feels natural. You will have breakups. You will be heartbroken. You will regain those lost teenage years.

You won’t fully understand that you’re gay until you’re 18. It will be a scary time for you. However, we are in luck. In one year time, Sara (our sister) will come out as lesbian. The family will have a bit of a negative reaction but this quickly blows over. You still won’t fully understand it about yourself, but on reflection, her coming out has helped you understand that being gay isn’t a bad thing. She will be the first person you come out to. She tells the family but that’s ok, it takes some of the pressure off you, and you know she couldn’t hold a secret for the life of her. It will run smoothly. Everyone will be supportive. Top Tip for coming out: video record all reactions. Our reaction videos could make a million hits on Youtube. You may as well capitalize on our coming out experience.  

You will love college and have a great social life. You will feel part of a community. Life will be everything you wanted it to be. Then you will turn 21 and you will get a shock diagnosis. You will become HIV positive. You won’t fully understand what impact these three letters will have on your life. You will go through a really bad time. You will start to believe that you are “unclean” and a second-rate human being. You will have really bad reactions to HIV medication. You will develop mental health issues and you will feel like you hit rock bottom. You will feel like you will never get old Robbie back.

There will come a point, thanks to friends and family, that you will finally begin to understand that you are not less or unclean. You are like everyone else; just trying to live their best life. You will make a decision, just like you did when you came out, that nobody’s words will make you feel bad about yourself again. You will make the decision that HIV and your sexuality will not define you in a negative light but you will carry with Pride all the teachings and experiences they will bring you. You will happily let go of old Robbie and decide to embrace a new Robbie.

Growing up you will meet some of the most amazing and inspiring people you could ever imagine meeting. Then you will see the negative effects an intolerant and sex shaming Ireland will have on these people. When you are thrust into a world that doesn’t always see you and your friends as equals, something will snap. You will decide to do everything you can to help change society for the betterment of people living with HIV.

You have great dreams at 15. Well, life will give you something above and beyond your dreams. You will go through hard times but do not change a thing. Those hard times in life make who you are today.

P.S. Buy Bitcoins.

Robi