ShoutOut began in 2012 with the goal of improving LGBTQI+ inclusion in schools. It was started by a group of LGBTQI+ activists in university who had struggled growing up LGBTQI+, and wanted to improve the school environment for the next generation of LGBTQI+ young people. We began telling our stories and delivering workshops in Irish secondary schools, and we have now given over 2,000 of these workshops as well as expanding our programme to include teacher training, workplace inclusion, and capacity building programmes. We are the only provider of LGBTQI+ school workshops in Ireland.
In what ways have young LGBTQI people in your community been affected by the COVID-19 emergency and the lockdowns?
Over half of LGBTQI+ youth have expressed that their home life is “not good” in lockdown, that they are at home with unaccepting families, feel isolated, and are experiencing loneliness, depression, and anxiety. For some, lockdown has offered a respite from school bullying, but for others they feel cut off from their support networks and peers in school.
Are there specific ways in which you have supported the community that you would like to highlight and/or share with other European organisations?
We continued to recruit new volunteers and deliver school workshops virtually to students at home or in school, in order to continue LGBTQI+ inclusive education despite the lockdown. We also developed video series and educational content to support students and teachers.
What can governments, (national and international) authorities and institutions do more to support the communities you serve throughout this crisis?
Governments can, and should, use this time to further develop LGBTQI+ inclusive curricula for schools, which do not currently exist in Ireland. Investments must be made in LGBTQI+ community services for all ages, in all locations, and our struggling mental health services need specialised support for LGBTQI+ youth.
There are reasons to believe that the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to be a part of our lives for 1-3 years. In what way do you think that prolonged lockdowns and/or other preventive measures will impact your work and LGBTQI+ youth in your country?
Prolonged lockdowns and mitigation measures mean that our workshops have to stay virtual for the time being. We miss interacting with students in person, in schools, where we are often better able to get an idea of the school’s support for LGBTQI+ students. Prolonged isolation will also prevent LGBTQI+ young people from discovering their broader committee as they grow, and will impede them from learning more about their own identities and living independently.