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Queer kids don’t feel safe at school

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A report on queer teens in Ireland has revealed that almost three quarters of them feel unsafe at school. The research by the activist group, BeLonG To Youth Services, is the largest survey ever conducted on queer youth in the Irish education system. It involved nearly 800 LGBTQ+ people between the ages of 13 and 20 from all Irish counties.

The alarming findings show that 77% of queer teenagers experience verbal harassment, and 38% experience physical harassment. 11% experience serious physical assault because of their sexual orientation or gender expression. The study suggests that bullying is worst for transgender students.

“I was sexually abused by the guys in the PE changing room age 14 to 17 on a weekly basis,” reads one anonymous response to the survey. “They would slap my ass, put their fingers up my ass, grope me and pull at my penis. I was terrified of PE and this affected my attendance on PE days.”

Another said: “I told my friends I was gay in first year and they outed me to everyone. It was horrible. People scribbled slurs on my photos around the school and wrote a slur on my locker in marker. I told my teacher and she basically told me I shouldn’t have come out then, as if it was my choice in the first place.”

The result of this targeted harassment is that queer kids are 27% more likely to miss school, and 8% less likely to pursue higher education.

Moninne Griffith, chief executive of BeLong To, said the research should be a “wake up call” for the government. She urged the Minister for Education to take immediate action to prioritise the safety and wellbeing of at-risk queer students.

Among the report’s recommendations are that the Irish government should review and update professional development supports for teachers, and encourage schools to develop school-wide LGBTQ+ inclusion policies. The report also calls on schools to implement a curriculum that supports diversity and respect for queer people, including an evaluation of social personal health education and sex education.

Periodical Political Post *128

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Periodical Political Post *71

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People can change

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27-year-old YouTuber Riyadh Khalaf is best known for his 2015 viral video in which he shared his Grindr messages with his mother, but the process of coming out to his dad was very difficult.

Speaking to Brendan O’Connor on Cutting Edge on RTE One on Wednesday night, Riyadh said he came out to his Irish mother first but they kept the news from his Iraqi father for a further nine months.

“He was brought up Muslim and in Islamic culture and in that world, as many of us know, it’s not okay to be gay most of the time. It’s full of shame, it’s full of fear. It’s seen as a sickness. It’s just not good.”

He said his father took it “incredibly difficultly” and revealed that his mother’s “main fear” was how to break the news to her husband. And their worst fears came true when Riyadh’s father attempted suicide. But things changed dramatically since. Watch the short video below :)

Handsome Devil

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Ned, an artistically inclined misfit, is so miserable at his conservative Irish boarding school that he longs to be expelled. His situation does not improve when he meets his soft-spoken roommate, a rugby-playing transfer student named Conor. But adolescent preconceptions about jocks and geeks are overcome, and the two form an unlikely friendship challenged by the school’s homophobic atmosphere.

Handsome Devil transcends its well-worn classroom drama routine once the characters’ sexual identities become a talking point instead of a schoolyard taunt. The film’s earnest message of acceptance is encumbered by stylistic choices, like a disruptive voice-over and clumsy split-screen montages contrasting the boys’ vastly different social experiences. The story flirts with daddy and betrayal issues but then fails to explore them fully.

John Butler, the director, who also wrote the script, fashions this uncaring environment in the tradition of “If …” (1969) and “Dead Poets Society”(1989), which also lends its kindly professor archetype, here played by Andrew Scott (“Sherlock”), who intervenes in his students’ lives. Scott’s performance brings much-needed sympathy and direction to the story; he’s kind of an emotional foil to the wild-eyed but meek Mr. O’Shea and too-stoic Mr. Galitzine. As in many a high school movie, it’s the seasoned teacher who brings the best out of his pupils, and here Scott draws the hidden potential not only from his students but also from the film.

Submitted by Bill

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