Students and staff at Coláiste Éamann Rís have been showing their support for the LGBTI+ community this week with a host different events, activities and plenty of colour.
As part of BelongTo’s Stand Up Awareness Week, the secondary school has been standing up to LGBTI+ bullying and showing their support for the community in both their school and personal lives.
The awareness week aims to build a school system that values the safety and wellbeing of LGBTI+ students and Coláiste Éamann Rís are one of many schools across Ireland to take part in the annual event.
The week-long event has been organised by BelongTo and is supported by the Department of Education and the Department of Children, Equality, Integration and Youth and last year, 58 per cent of second-level schools took part in the campaign.
Principal Aaron Wolfe said that Coláiste Éamann Rís has been taking part in the week for a number of years and were one of the first schools to incorporate the event into their school calendar.
“We think it’s very important that students feel accepted and that doesn’t just mean students who are in the LGBTQI+ community, it’s students from every background,” he said.
“Knowing you have a place and you’re accepted and you’re normal. It’s nothing to be ashamed about.”
The event and the message behind it is something that Mr Wolfe noted as an important part of the school’s ethos.
“It’s not just about the week,” he said.
“The week is the week we bring attention to it, but it’s a lived ethos in our school, teaching that kind of acceptance of all people.
“It’s all based on respect. Every week we live this in our school life.”
As part of the event, school counsellor, Clodagh O’Rourke has been coordinating events for the classroom, with students taking part in activities all week, including table quizzes, educational games and documentaries.
As a member of the LGBTI+ community, for Clodagh O’Rourke, advocating a message of inclusion, diversity and tolerance is an important aspect of both the week-long event and everyday school life.
“There’s more and more young people that are out in the school and they are reporting that, nobody cares - in a good way - and they can be themselves and express themselves.
“It’s important to me that they feel included in school and not excluded in any way or teased,” said Clodagh O’ Rourke.
“We’re all different in our own way it is something to be celebrated.”