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.

ShoutOut Featured on Pat Kenny Show

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This morning ShoutOut was featured on the Pat Kenny Show, which featured a short report on a school visit to Portmarnock Community School last week. Shona Murray, from NewsTalk, accompanied four of our volunteers to bring the story to the airwaves, last Thursday, March 6th. Aifric Ni Chriodain, Conor Scully, Catehrine Healy and Anna-Livia Hickey represented ShoutOut and delivered an excellent workshop to the students of Portmarnock CS.

Thanks to NewsTalk, Portmarnock CS and our volunteers!

You can check out the report at this link, from 39:00mins in. http://newstalk.ie/player/listen_back/13240/8365/13th_March_2014_-_The_Pat_Kenny_Show_Part_1

Provost of Trinity gives a shoutout to ShoutOut

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The Provost of Trinity College Dublin gave a shoutout to ShoutOut in an address today entitled "Identities in Transition  - Constitutional Peace Building". Speaking about the emphasis in universities on innovation and entrepreneurship in the  fields  of civic engagement and human rights Provost Patrick Prendergast pointed to  ShoutOut  as  an example.

"Last year for instance, Trinity students established Shoutout, an anti-homophobia  and anti-transphobia initiative aimed at establishing workshops around sexual  orientation and gender identity in secondary schools, in order to lessen stigma and  reinforce a message of equality."

Present for the address was Chancellor to the University and former President of Ireland  Mary Robinson. Here at ShouOut we're proud to have received a mention from the big kahuna himself.  Long may Trinity College's culture of diversity and innovation inspire others.

See: http://www.tcd.ie/provost/addresses/2014-02-03_TIDI.php for the entire speech. Thanks to Orlagh Ennis for pointing it out!

 

ShoutOut visits the Scouts!

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We  paid a visit to the Scouts after receiving a request for one of our workshops.

Eoin Egan (a former scout himself, and current ShoutOut volunteer) pictured with Scout Master Ger Hennessy.

Aughrim Street Scouts, located in Stoneybatter in Dublin, recently got in touch to ask for one of workshops. They were interested in finding out more about LGBT issues and wanted to ensure a supportive environment for young LGBT scouts. We were delighted to oblige and last Wednesday 29th January three of our wonderful volunteers visited the group and facilitated a workshop. It was a very positive experience with brill feedback from the scouts themselves and our volunteers. LGBT language and supports were discussed with particular enthusiasm shown form the scouts themselves  for their pride flag (pictured) which our volunteers were told was the biggest in the den! The group were kind enough to give our volunteers cute T-shirts too. At a time when the Boy Scouts of America still upholds a ban on "open or avowed" homosexual adults it is  encouraging and admirable to see Scouting Ireland take a proactive approach to LGBT youth issues to ensure a supportive environment for all their young scouts brothers and sisters.

Special thanks to Scout Leader Ger Hennessy [pictured left] for contacting us.

Loads of Volunteers Trained

 

  1. The atomic number of cadmium.
  2. The number of Ptolemaic constellations.
  3. The total number of minutes in an NBA game.

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Yes, 48 is a magic number....It also happens to be the number of volunteers that turned up for our first training session for Dublin-based volunteers. Horrah, rejoice, exclaim! Here's a sample of just two of those noble 48 who will be delivering the workshop across schools in Ireland. We wish them luck.

 

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Noble Volunteer #. 1

Hey all, I'm Muireann and I'm 23 years old. I just finished college last year and lived and worked in San Francisco for the Summer. Volunteering with ShoutOut is something I enjoy doing because as a young gay person I think that it is important to be visible. I went to a school where there was absolute silence about gay issues and I just didn't feel comfortable to  come out. It's of great value to have the chance to chat to students and give them the space to talk about or ask questions about LGBTQ  issues. I've already done two workshops with ShoutOut and can't wait to do more.

Irish schools now must have a policy about homophobic bullying

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As reported in The Journal: Cyberbullying and homophobic bullying policies now mandatory for schools

The Department of Education has published new anti-bullying procedures to replace guidelines that have been in place since 1993. The Department of Education has published new anti-bullying procedures that are required to be adopted... Following consultation with parents and students, each school must develop its own individual policies before publishing them on the school’s website.

We applaud this much-needed policy change and look forward to delivering even more workshops this school year as secondary schools work to integrate the new policy framework into their school communities.

[icon icon="camera" size="small" style="none" shape="inherit"]Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mdgovpics/6937835784/

Bullies: My SHOUT OUT Story

YouTube celeb James Mitchell of JamesMitchellTV caught Shout Out on Facebook and as he says:

Now naturally because I'm such a self-centered person, all I could think of automatically was "Oh my God, why don't I share my school experience with everyone?" Get the tissues, we're going to have a teenaged moment: nobody understands meeee! But actually I think because of social media and online communities like YouTube, Twitter and Tumblr, I think a lot of you watching will understand me, and will feel better knowing that somebody actually got through it.

No need to grab a hankie, but great to watch anyway: Bullies: My SHOUT OUT Story.