From Leinster Leader
Published on Tuesday 26 April 2011 16:03
YOUNG rural lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered people are seven times more likely to commit suicide and 14 times more likely to inflict self harm than their straight counterparts.
This is according to a new study titled “Coming Out - LGBT Young People: Challenges and support needs in rural Ireland”, which was launched in the Derby House Hotel, Kildare town last Wednesday April 20. The study had a strong local influence as it was commissioned by Kildare Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Group (LBGT).
Author of the report, Bernadette Smyth pointed out the issues faced in rural areas, like Kildare, were different to those faced in urban areas.
She said young LGBT people can experience mental health issues, depression, victimisation, discrimination, alcohol abuse, self harm and suicide. She noted the fear of coming out was a huge issue with many young people who were forced to move from their rural homes to larger towns and cities in order to be able to express themselves fully. The report found that the most common age that people discovered their sexual orientation was 12 but some children realised it at as young an age as eight. However, the most common age for coming out was 17 for males, and 18 for females with many young people keeping their sexual identity hidden for up to six years.
“It’s especially hard in rural areas where everyone knows everyone,” she explained.
“In the country or outside of the cities and towns, one person comes out to another person and then everyone knows. You are coming out to the entire community. For young people who are very vunerable at that age, they may feel they have to give up everything.”
One respondent told of how his sister was beaten up on her way home from school because he came out and told people about his sexuality.
The study noted that young LBGT people were two to five times more likely to use drugs while 65% had some experience of drugs, compared to just 25% in the general youth population. She said the transgender group of people were often more vulnerable.
Ms Smyth pointed out that being gay does not cause problems for young people, but its society’s response and attitude to it that is the issue. The report acknowledges the need for LGBT drop in centres particularly in rural areas, youth groups working in conjunction with schools, workshops and supports for parents of LGTB young people, community forums and the provision of transport to drop in centres.
Ms Smyth said there was an incredible resilience and ability to thrive among young LGBT people in the face of adversity. She praised Belong To - an LGBT group based in Dublin which gives support to other LGBT groups across the country as well as running its own facilities.
Chris Pender, Kildare LGBT chairperson said the local group was set up in 2005 but it disbanded due to people going off to college and other events. It was revamped in early 2009. He thanked the agencies who facilitated the report which included Kildare VEC, Kildare Youth Services, County Kildare Leadership Partnership and the HSE.
“We are hoping to get a group set up here at the end of June for 12 to 18 year olds. As well as being chairman of Kildare LGBT, I am also chairperson of Sunrise LGBT, which is for adults and that meets regularly in Newbridge for now. People come from right across Kildare. Kildare LGBT also run awareness training, which we will be doing again,” he said.
A LGBT Diversity seminar on culture and community will take place on May 28 for the South West region including Kildare and West Wicklow at the Derby House Hotel. Anyone interested in learning more about Kildare LGBT can call 085 7548257.
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Campaign launches :
A coalition of groups from Latin America and the Caribbean is launching today a new campaign called "Cures that kill". The HIVOS-supported campaign aims at fighting so-called 'reparative' therapies, aiming at "curing" sexual and gender diversity. First signatories include the Brazilian Federal Council of Psychology, Mariela Castro, the Mayor of Lima, many international and regional networks and institutions ,... and many more.
The coalition now appeals for support from the international community and the wider public. [ Sign the petition and spread the word ! More information on this campaign, including activities in various countries.
The IDAHO Committee launches today the online mobilisation action "AS I AM".
The "As I Am" campaign aims to celebrate our individualities and to honor the collective spirit that binds us all, connecting us to universal, inalienable and interconnected human rights that all people share. The campaign invites for submissions of creatives videos, pieces of artwork, or written statements about respecting a person for ALL of who they are. Join the global movement and spread this call for action
News from around the world :
Lady Gaga (herself !) will be editor in chief of the 20 national editions of the free daily "METRO" on the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia. Her commitment in favor of diversity and against standardisation will reach 17 million daily readers and give the Day a renewed visibility that will certainly benefit IDAHO initiatives everywhere. She launches a contest to recruit assistants on this operation.
With impulse from Turkish LGBT group KAOS GL, a regional network against homophobiawill be launched as part of the 6th international IDAHO conference to be held in Ankara mid-May (programme to be communicated soon). The network should include participants from the Middle East, the Caucasus and Balkan Countries and hold its first 2-day meeting as part of the IDAHO conference.
In Rwanda, LGBT organisation HOCA will be adressing the press at a large-scale media conference to increase awareness of the situation of sexual and gender minorities in the country.
For the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia 2011, the international photo project "Walk with Pride" developed by Charles 'Chad' Meacham and Sarah Baxter goes global. The exhibition will be shown simultaneously in more than 20 locations around the world, including at the European Parliament. The IDAHO Committee's website will feature the exhibition online on May 17th
In Russia, the initiative "Rainbow Flashmob" will have its second edition this year, with Hamburg joining in again this year in solidarity and other cities expected to follow suit. More info on the initiative and guidelines on how to join the initiative
In Italy, one of the projects developed by activists resonates particularly with the campaign 'Cures that Kill" as it calls for prayers in ecumenical assemblies for victims of homofobia and transfobia victims. Last year the project resonated till Spain and Germany. This year the fifth convocation will certainly be heard further and farer. More information on the 'Gionata'
In Israel, the IDAHO team will announce the winner of the "academic papers regarding homophobia" contest, which is to receive the support of Israeli President and Nobel Prize laureate Shimon Peres. In the city of Nethanya, 120 school counselors will participate in a seminar adressing homo/transphobic bullying in schools. More information from IDAHO-Israel's website (in Hebrew, Arabic and English) HAVANA
In Australia, more actions are being developed for the Day, as for example a vigil to honour the heros in our communities. This event will announce the start of a year-long campaign calling upon government bodies to sign and ratify the joint statement of the 2011 Asia Pacific Outgames Human Rights Conference.
In Chile, a march will be closing a one-day program that associates public campaigning and political advocacy.
In Peru, an impressive edition of the Day is building up, with a week long programme in Lima, including a national seminar on 'reparative' therapies(.
And many more news to come soon !
Equality Studies at the UCD School of Social Justice invites applications for the following postgraduate programmes commencing September 2011:
MSc in Equality Studies
Graduate Diploma in Equality Studies
Graduate Certificate in Equality Studies
Professional Certificate in Social Justice
PhD in Equality Studies
For further details and access to the online application form please go to http:www.ucd.ie/socialjustice/postgraduate.htm