New Chair of the Board Elected!

Declan Meehan has been elected as Chair of the Board of Directors of ShoutOut. Declan has been involved with ShoutOut since its beginning in 2012, when ShoutOut first ran a pilot scheme in just 10 schools in Dublin. Over the past 5 years he has worked in various roles with the organisation, most recently establishing ShoutOut as an all-Ireland organisation by bringing ShoutOut workshops to Northern Ireland through a partnership with Cara-Friend, of which Declan is Deputy Director. Declan is also the Vice-Chair of the Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum, as well as a committee member of the campaign for marriage equality in Northern Ireland, Love Equality. 

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“It is an honour to be chosen as Chair of the Board of Directors of ShoutOut", said Declan. "The recent registration of ShoutOut as an official charity, combined with the appointment of Bella FitzPatrick as Director, and the restructuring of our Board of Directors with the position of Chair, are all important steps in ensuring the professionalisation and continued growth of ShoutOut. As Chair I am committed to supporting the excellent work of our volunteers, and our Director, as well as staff in schools all across Ireland. We want to ensure that every LGBTQ+ student in Ireland can bring their full and truest self to school every morning, and leave their school day in the afternoon without having experienced bullying or negativity because of who they are. ShoutOut is committed to changing the experiences of LGBTQ+ young people for the better in secondary schools across Ireland. We are also committed to the principles of transparency and good governance as a registered charity." 

In addition to Declan Meehan, the Board of Directors is comprised of Eoin O'Liatháin, Clare Ní Cheallaigh, Paul Behan and Anna Keogh. The Board will seek to expand its membership in early 2018 to broaden its diversity and expertise. 

You're Hired!

We are delighted to announce our first employee! 

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Commencing immediately Bella FitzPatrick will take up post as ShoutOut’s Director. Bella has been with ShoutOut for over 3 years and has worked tirelessly to ensure our school and volunteer networks have continued to expand. We are delighted to have her join in this capacity.

In her own words, “I'm so honoured to be ShoutOut's first paid employee. It’s my privilege to work with so many wonderful volunteers, teachers, students and workplaces. I want to work myself of a job; I want the concept of being bullied for your gender identity, sexual orientation, sexual characteristics or gender expression to be a thing of the past. We have a long way to go, but we will get there. ”

Since it’s inception 5 years ago ShoutOut has been an entirely voluntary organisation. We’ve relied on a committee and volunteer community to give up their time, energy and passion towards the mission of safe schools.

Now the scale and breadth of our operations, the demands of managing 10 school projects every week, as well as our newly formed corporate programme, has meant the need to move toward a more formal structure. We’re confident this will ensure the sustainability and quality of service for our organisation. Please join us in congratulating Bella and celebrating this exciting milestone for ShoutOut.

Warm regards,

Eoin, Paul, Declan, Clare, Anna,

ShoutOut to my teenage self: Aoife Martin

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

Aoife is an IT professional and outspoken advocate for trans rights. She trended on Twitter once and has been dining off the glory of that ever since. In her spare time Aoife enjoys wrestling her unwieldy book collection into shape and having opinions on film. She can be found babbling away on Twitter where her handle is @aoifemrtn. 

Dear Aoife,

Is it okay if I call you Aoife? I know that's not your name at the moment and you haven't even thought of it as a name, but maybe when you read this letter you'll consider it. I think of you often, you know. Especially during those troubled years - the dreaded teenage years, as mam liked to call them. They're never much fun, are they? I probably shouldn't tell you then that you're going to have to do it all over again - only this time instead of testosterone coursing its way through your body it's going to be oestrogen. Maybe that makes it easier. It's not everyone who gets a second chance at puberty but at least this time it'll be the correct hormones.
I know it’s not easy being at an all-boys’ school and having to wear those bland scratchy grey trousers and bland woollen grey jumper that makes sure you’re not seen as an individual. Nor is it easy for you to fit in. You don’t want people to realise. You make jokes and you laugh so that people don’t realise. You act the eejit so that people don’t realise. You talk the talk so that people don’t realise. Your body is changing but not in the way that it should but you don’t want people to realise.

If I tell you that you’ll get past this will it make it easier? If I tell you that one day you won’t have to sneak around stealing chances where you can to try on a skirt or a dress or some makeup will you believe me? That one day you’ll be out and proud of who you are and not embarrassed or ashamed to be you? That you’ll be able to go out in broad daylight and not be terrified that people are laughing at you or worse? That you’ll have friends who will accept that you are a woman and treat you as such? Or that one day, you will refer to yourself as trans woman and be proud of that fact? What? Sorry, yes, trans woman. That’s a word you won’t have heard yet. It’s a nice word. Much nicer than transvestite or transsexual, those clinical words that do their very best to obscure the person underneath. We are so much more than our labels, aren’t we?

If I could tell you two things, other than buy shares in Apple, is first of all that it’s okay to be transgender. That’s important and worth repeating. It’s okay to be transgender. I know you might think you’re the only person who feels this but you’re not. How do I know? Wait until you discover the internet, Kiddo. The internet? It’s too hard to explain but it will open your world. You’ll meet people who love you and accept you for who you are and you’ll have a grand old time.

The second thing I’d say to you, and I hope I’m not going all preachy on you here, is talk to people. People who love you. People you can trust. I know it’s not easy because what you’re hiding inside feels so shameful and embarrassing but it’s not. I repeat again: it’s okay to be transgender. Trans people are awesome. How do I know? Because I’m one, you’re one and you, Aoife (I really like that name you know), are amazing. You belong to a unique group of pioneering people who have been around since time immemorial and who challenge the status quo. That makes people uneasy. People don’t like to be challenged. But this is your life, not theirs. They can’t tell you to be someone who you’re not. Be you. Be strong. Be awesome.

I won’t lie and tell you that it’s going to be easy. It’s a bumpy road ahead and you’ll take many wrong turns, but that’s life isn’t it? In that respect you’re no different to anyone else. We all make mistakes and sometimes we even learn from those mistakes. But remember this, it’s those mistakes that make us who we are. Try not to beat yourself up over the ifs and the buts and the what-could-have-beens. Someone wiser than me once said that which does not kill us makes us stronger. And it’s true.

You have a long and difficult journey ahead but you will get there. How do I know? Because I did. We did.  

Sincerely yours,

Aoife.

PS It’s okay to be transgender.

ShoutOut at ILGA Europe!

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Earlier this month ShoutOut were lucky enough to be able to send Managing Director, Bella FitzPatrick, to the ILGA Europe Annual Conference which took place in Warsaw. We want to express so much gratitude to ILGA Europe who sponsored Bella's trip over, making it possible for ShoutOut to be represented at this incredible event. Here's how Bella found the experience:

The theme of the event was: "Change! Communities mobilising, movements rising!", which was very fitting for me as a volunteer working to create safe schools on the Island of Ireland. 

Among the incredible workshops and talks I was able to attend a meeting about youth work hosted by the amazing organisation IGLYO. IGLYO showed us how they are assessing the level of LGBTQIA+ safety and inclusion in schools across Europe. 

Next I learned about research into safe schools from US org GLSEN. We can't wait to work with IGLYO and GLSEN in the future! 

We heard worrying statistics from the True Colors Fund about how LGBTQIA+ youth are affected by homelessness in greater numbers then their cis-straight counterparts, and how much a stable home and welcoming schools are vital for LGBTQIA+ young people. 

As well as workshops and talks on safe schools and youth issues, I was able to attend workshops on a variety of topics such as bi visibility, parent support, and intersex rights. 

On the last evening we went to the Palace of Culture and Science which was aglow with rainbow colours! 

This conference was truly transformative, and I'm very lucky that I was sponsored to go, and that I have such an understanding day job that always make room for my work with ShoutOut.


 

Meet a ShoutOuter - Ross Hunter

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ShoutOut isn't one person, it's dozens and dozen of volunteers! This is how we do so many workshops. It's the beginning of November and we've already 50 workshops this school year!

Ross is one of our most committed volunteers. Learn more about Ross!

Hey guys! I’m Ross, a 21 year old from Meath with a passion for meditation, psychology and most importantly ShoutOut! I’ve been a volunteer for about two years now and I can safely say it has been one of the most fulfilling and enjoyable experiences I’ve had in college!

I remember walking into my first workshop looking like my dog after he’s peed on the new carpet. I.was.so.nervous. Thoughts flew through my head “What if they act out?”, “What if they ask me a question I don’t know the answer to?”. My anxieties were soon eased as I was introduced to my partner for the day Conor. Conor was a ShoutOut veteran and all round cool guy. He helped me through my first workshop and gave me all the hints and tips I could ever want. It was bizarre yet liberating sharing my story of coming out with a group of 14 year olds (now it feels like reciting a shopping list!).

I couldn’t help but think that one of those kids could easily have been and just how beneficial I would have found it! What I love most about ShoutOut is the feeling after you finish a workshop (and that’s not just from the free lunch!). You really feel like you have made a difference. Just standing up there, as a LGBT* individual you can be a role model, a voice and that can be a lifeline in itself

WE'RE OFFICIALLY A CHARITY

ShoutOut started 5 years ago as a bunch of friends from college wanting to bring the accepting nature of university into schools. 

Seeing a demand for such a service it was formalised: ShoutOut would deliver workshops in schools to tackle LGBTQ+ bullying. We partnered with the Anti Bullying Council and other organisations to develop the workshop. 

Since then we've created new services: training for teachers, and workshops for parents & guardians. Last year we felt very official as we got our first ever office, in Outhouse on Capel Street. 

The next big milestone for ShoutOut was becoming all Ireland. We partnered with Cara Friend in Northern Ireland and now we offer workshops in 32 counties. 

Over the years we've delivered nearly 500 workshops to students: that's 15000 students who have heard the message that it's OK to be who you are, and it's never OK to bully anyone. 

Now we help workplaces become more accepting too: with our corporate workshops we can help create welcome workplaces for LGBTQ+ employees. 

The journey has been amazing. Just today our volunteers delivered 7 workshops in two schools! 

Today we're reflecting because we've finally become an officially charity! It's a new era for ShoutOut! We're so happy to have our beautiful Registered Charity Number: 20141769 - look at it! It's georgeous!

We'll continue to give workshops to schools whenever we're needed no matter where on the Island of Ireland. 

 

10 Tips to Ensure Supportive Schools!

There's likely an LGBTQ+ student in almost every classroom across Ireland. Here are our ten tips to ensure a supportive school environment:

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1. Ensure the school's anti-bullying policy clearly & explicitly addresses homophobic and transphobic bullying. 

2. Include all types of families and relationships in class discussions, lessons and resources. The silences around certain representations can be very loud for some students.

3. When pupils use phrases such as ‘that’s so gay’ or ‘you’re so gay’ it's essential for the teacher / principal to challenge this. Even if it's not intended as an insult, it can be inferred as such and must not be tolerated.

4. If a student comes out to you respond by thanking them for telling you, continue by asking about their experience in telling others, and let them know of the internal and external support available if needed.

5. Put up an LGBT themed poster!

6. Take part in Stand Up!, a national week against homophobic and transphobic bullying.

6.. Have an SPHE class on the differences between sexual orientation and gender. 

7. Respect the correct gender, name and pronoun for addressing transgender or intersex students.  

8. Transgender students should be allowed to wear a uniform that corresponds with their gender identity and access toilet and changing facilities that correspond with their gender identity.

10. Book a free ShoutOut workshop!

ShoutOut Wins a Belfast Pride Award!

We're delighted to announce that ShoutOut has won a BelfastPride Award along with Cara-Friend for our LGBTQ+ Inclusive Schools Programme!

Last year ShoutOut and Cara-Friend partnered together for the use of our schools programme for schools in Northern Ireland.

For this 27 workshops we're delivered in 10 schools reaching 800+ young people.

Along with Cara-Friend we're very grateful for everyone who voted for us!

Along with Cara-Friend we're very grateful for everyone who voted for us!

170 WORKSHOPS COMPLETE!

Today was our very last workshop of the school year! 

This marked the 170th ShoutOut workshop since September. 

 

170 workshops

5000 school students

67 secondary schools

17 counties

Delivered by 65 trained volunteers

 

This represents over 1000 working hours from our workshop facilitators and the Directorial team, all of whom volunteer their time. 

66% of our workshops took place outside Co. Dublin 

We also trained 150 secondary school teachers on LGBTQ+ issues and how to be ally to their LGBTQ+ students. 

This would not be possible without our fantastic volunteers, the wonderful teachers who welcome us into their schools, and the incredible sponsors who support us. A huge thank you to Fidelity Investments, Oracle, Ulster Bank, Dropbox, Intertech, Lush and all the individual donations which have made the above possible. 

We cannot thank everyone enough. 

Yours,

Bella, Clare, Declan & Eoin

 

 

Fidelity Donates Furniture to our Office!

THANK You to Fidelity Insurance for their donation of lovely furniture for our office. Mitchell Cash, HR Director, and personal hero, led the charge on this partnership. Previously ShoutOut has worked with Fidelity's PRIDE Employee Resource Group and Learning & Development teams giving sessions to Fidelity Parents and Allies of LGBTQ+ children. As you can see from our smiles we're delighted with the gift :)

Pictured: Mitchell Cash, Eoin O'Liathain, Clare Ni Cheallaigh, and Bella FitzPatrick.

Pictured: Mitchell Cash, Eoin O'Liathain, Clare Ni Cheallaigh, and Bella FitzPatrick.

2017: New Year, New Workshops!

We're kicking off 2017 with 40 workshops booked in January alone!

These workshops are taking place in 15 schools across 11 counties on the Island of Ireland! 

In January alone we will have reached about 1200 students with the message that it's OK to be who you are, and it's not OK to bully those who differ from you. 

We set out with one simple goal; to make it a little easier to be LGBTQ+ in secondary school. It can be a tough time for any young person and many LGBTQ+ people are struggling with their identity and the prospect of coming out.

We wanted to educate young people about language in the LGBTQ+ community so they can have respectful dialogue, and create an environment where diversity is celebrated

With our specially designed, interactive hour long workshops which are FREE to schools on the Island of Ireland, we are working towards this goal, one workshop at a time. 

If you want to find out how you can be involved email Bella@ShoutOut.ie

 

ShoutOut launches in Northern Ireland!

We are delighted to announce that ShoutOut workshops will now be available in schools across Northern Ireland, in partnership with Cara-Friend, which runs the LGBTQ+ youth service in the North. This new partnership will allow us to reach more schools and students on an all-Ireland basis, working with our partners in the North to make the secondary school experience of LGBTQ+ young people more positive and more inclusive.

Our first workshop took place on Septmber 14th in St. Joseph’s Boys’ High School in Newry, and this followed on from taking part in Newry Pride earlier this month – our first in Pride in Northern Ireland. It’s another big step for ShoutOut as we kick off our fourth year in schools, since launching in 2013. The 2016-17 school year will see us deliver workshops to tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in all corners of Ireland. We are very excited about our new partnership and about reaching more students in schools than ever before!

“We’re very excited to be bring our workshop model to Northern Irish schools in partnership with Cara-Friend” says Bella FitzPatrick, Managing Director of ShoutOut. “The workshop in Newry earlier this month is hopefully the first of many over the coming year.”

“We were delighted to have ShoutOut deliver their first workshop in the North here at St. Joseph’s” says Declan Murray, Principal. “It’s a great honour to have been the first school to have received one, and it was received brilliantly by the students involved.”

If you would like to request a workshop for your school in Northern Ireland email Declan Meehan on declan.meehan@cara-friend.org.uk to organise! 

We're back!

Summer's over, schools are back and ShoutOut is launching for it's 4th year! This time bigger than ever, featuring:

  • A Newly Designed Workshop (Produced by an external professional)
  • A Larger Team
  • An October Launch Date

Our mission is and always has been to make schools a welcoming place for LGBT youth. The Marriage Equality referendum this year helped this more than we could ever hope to by creating conversations in every school in Ireland. Yet despite the victorious result, harmful campaigning in every county and the fact that 37.93% of voters said no reminds us that things could and should be better.

That's why ShoutOut will continue its work in engaging young people, teaching about sexuality and diversity, and working towards ensuring that no young person in this country feels shame about their identity.

Tom Daley Approves New Workshop!

ShoutOut is SUPER excited to be partnering with Caoimhe McClafferty, with over ten years experience in the field of programme design and implementation. Through her research and programme development work with the team here at Shout Out we guarantee, fun, interactive workshops that will have a real and lasting impact in the class room. Caoimhe brings so much experience to the table and is helping us ensure that ShoutOut workshops are based on the most up to date research and bring meaningful impact into classrooms. So much so even Olympic diver Tom Daley approves! Tom DaleyOn completion of the workshop Student participants will be able to:

  •  List and define the diverse range of words associated with gender and sexuality.
  • Recognise some of the challenges faced by LGBT young people.
  • State the impact that homophobic language can have.
  • Challenge their own prejudices, and that of their classmates, in relation to homophobic bullying.
  • Develop strategies for challenging the use of homophobic language.
  • Recognise themselves as allies.
  • Appreciate diversity and promote equality

 

A Volunteer's View

I first came out to my best friend in second year. I was sitting in the back of a Science class with her and I wrote on a piece of paper in code and passed it over to her. I was terrified. I had no idea how she was going to react. I had asked beneath the piece of code “Do you understand?” and she replied “You’re a lesbian”. I replied yes and she didn’t mind, though I struggled to look at her throughout the conversation. I found out afterwards that when I told her that I had something important to tell her the only thing she could think was that I was pregnant.

The reason I was so scared was because of the social stigma that floated around my single-sex, catholic school in relation to the LGBTQ+ community. If you didn’t shave you were gay. If a teacher gave too much homework, that was so gay. If you, like one of my friends, posted a photo on facebook of you and your boyfriend someone might comment beneath “GGGAAAAAAYYYYYY”. Everything remotely negative or sappy was gay. Many people in the school had no problem with the LGBTQ+ community. They knew little about it but had nothing against it. They were just spreading words and phrases they’d been hearing. They didn’t think about it. Nevertheless, due to these homophobic slurs I went through secondary school terrified of other people’s opinions and never knowing how people would react when I came out. I did come out to most of my year and most were fine with it but I still felt nervous around the topic and about what people might be saying behind my back.

I left school then and went to college. In college it didn’t matter that I was gay. I made lots of friends inside and outside the LGBTQ+ community. I felt free and happy. Then my debs came along. I decided that I wanted to bring a girl. I asked my Dad about it and he said “No, don’t. Bring a fella”. This was the first time I’d ever heard my Dad use the word “fella”. I’d already invited a friend and to my surprise she said yes. I found out afterwards that my Dad only said no because he feared other people’s reactions, he feared I might get bullied. If he’d told me at the time maybe I wouldn’t have felt so oppressed. We went to the debs anyway, had some nice predrinks with white wine at a friend’s house with some family there. We posed for photos among polite chatter and then went on to the hotel. I was the only girl in my year who brought a girl to the debs. For the most part everything seemed fine until a girl from my year approached me. She pointed to my debs date and said “Who’s she?” My heart started pounding. Even though I’d left secondary school it seemed my fears hadn’t disappeared. I replied “she’s my date”. The girl said “oh” and walked over to my date and said “I really like your dress”.

I just had such fear built up in me because I didn’t know in school that nobody cared. I didn’t know that it made no difference who you were attracted to. If a group like ShoutOut had come into my school and said that it’s ok to be LGBTQ+, just a quiet nodding in response from my class would’ve taken a weight of my shoulders. I would’ve known that everything was fine and would’ve felt uplifted by the workshop that remembered that I exist. This is why I joined ShoutOut. So people like me don’t have to go through secondary school with unnecessary fear that only exists because nobody told them that everything was fine.