DCU team leads research into anti-LGBTI bullying plan for primary schools

Members of the team who created the plan to combat LGBTI bullying in primary schools

Researchers in the National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre (ABC), in association with BeLonGTo Youth Services, have developed a new programme which aims to tackle anti LGBTI bullying in primary schools.

The programme, which was developed over the last two years, takes the form of four lessons based in the 5th and 6th class Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) curriculum. Research on the programme was led by a team from St. Patrick’s College, DCU comprising of Dr. Bernie Collins, Dr. Seline Keating and Prof. Mark Morgan.

Entitled ‘All Together Now’, the lessons focus on human rights and equality as an approach to homophobic and transphobic bullying, respect, and inclusion. Each lesson concentrates on different core messages.

Lesson one explores human rights from both foreign and domestic laws; lesson two aims to enhance a student’s understanding of bullying and its wider perception; lesson three teaches students how to respond to bullying both as victims and bystanders; and lesson four returns to positive endings and encourages feelings of belonging.

The lessons will aim to do this with the help of teacher’s powerpoint presentations, hypothetical scenarios, discussion questions and other tools. For example, a ‘hurt scale’ allows students to express their feelings on different types of bullying.

The programme was piloted in 14 schools this year; nine Catholic, three Educate Together, two Community National schools, and two of these schools were DEIS schools.

The ABC was established by then Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and Minister for Education and Skills Ruairí Quinn in May 2014 and is funded by the Department of Education and Skills.

BeLonGTo sought to develop this programme for primary schools in Ireland for five reasons. The organisation has received a huge amount of complaints from young lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people that they were bullied for their identity in school.

These claims have been validated by Irish research showing homophobia is widespread in primary schools, and that 12 is the average age LGBTI students will realise their identity.

The long term effects of childhood LGBTI bullying and the Government’s ‘Anti Bullying Procedures’ were also noted as reasons for the development of All Together Now.

Conor O’Doherty

Image Credit: DCU.ie

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