Government launches policy to ensure LGBTI children are 'visible, valued and included'

Katherine Zappone and Maria Walsh, Former Rose of Tralee, at today's launch. Pic: Maxwell Photography.

The Government has launched the first policy for LGBTI children.

The LGBTI+ National Youth Strategy will run until 2020.

The strategy has been informed by the views of thousands of young people and by those who work with them.

The purpose is to ensure that all LGBTI+ young people are visible, valued and included.

It guarantees a cross-governmental approach to put additional measures in place to further enhance lives of LGBTI+ young people, and address some of the key challenges they face.

    It has three main goals:

  • Create a safe, supportive and inclusive environment for LGBTI+ young people
  • Improve the mental, physical and sexual health and wellbeing of the entire LGBTI+ community
  • Develop research and data to better understand the lives of LGBTI+ young people

Fifteen objectives and 59 actions are contained in these goals, with the vast majority of Government departments responsible for leading or assisting in their delivery.

Actions cover areas such as schools, higher education institutions, health and social services, workplaces, youth services and the wider community.

For instance, the Department of Education will lead on a number of actions, including ensuring that LGBTI+ young people feel fully included in schools, and ensuring that LGBTI+ issues are considered for inclusion in SPHE and RSE programmes.

The Department of Justice will lead on actions concerning issues like discrimination against LGBTI+ people.

While the HSE will lead on a number of actions concerning sexual health services.

The promotion or practice of conversion therapy by health professionals in Ireland is also prohibited.

There is also a provision of support to those who may have experienced or report homophobic or transphobic bullying or harassment.

Launching the strategy, Children's Minister Katherine Zappone stressed that it must achieve real results.

She said her own department will lead the way with an annual €400,000 budget to improve youth services and make them more LGBTI+ aware.

Minister Zappone added: "Ireland has taken big steps in terms of equality.

"Decriminalisation, Marriage Equality and the Gender Recognition Act are huge positives, acknowledged by the young people we spoke to.

"But it is also clear more must be done.

"No-one in this country should feel isolated, discriminated against or bullied - yet that is a reality for some younger members of our LGBTI+ community."

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