LGBTI+ National Youth Strategy

My name is Sinéad Crilly. I’m a Guide leader in Drogheda and Chair of Irish Girl Guides Membership, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion committee. In December I was lucky enough to attend a unique and inspiring event in the fabulous setting of Dogpatch Labs in Dublin’s CHQ building.

Ireland is the first country in the world to commit to developing an LGBTI+ strategy specifically dedicated to young people. In late 2016 work began on discovering the views of Ireland’s young LGBTI community on their lives, society and the future.

The Department of Children and Youth Affairs invited young people from all over Ireland to come together on Saturday 9 December in Dublin to celebrate Pride, Pals and PerspectivesThe event saw the launch of the Youth Consultation Reportwhich will inform the LGBTI+ National Youth Strategy and represents the voices, aspirations, ideas and input from 4,000 young people nationwide.

The event began with different organisations showcasing their work over the past year. I visited all the stands and spoke to incredible people. One was Katie McGloin of KT Clothing, a gender neutral company she launched in TY which led her to many awards, including Foróige’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) and BelongTo were represented along with many diverse groups. Lots of people wanted to speak to me about Guiding and Scouting. A number of people commented on IGG’s inclusive nature and our progress in the last few years. Delicious lunch of pizza, salads and doughnuts went down really well with the attendees. I also got lots of swag!

Maria Walsh, former Rose of Tralee, was our MC for the day and she spoke movingly about her own experiences as a lesbian in the public eye. She encouraged us to ask permission before posting or streaming anyone else as they may not be out at home etc. Maria picked out interesting responses from the consultations. She introduced Úna Mullally, chair of the oversight committee and Irish Times journalist, who explained how the strategy is being developed.

Before speaking about their involvement in the consultation, members of the youth advisory group told us which pronouns they prefer, which was a demonstration of how a simple thing can make a huge difference to a trans or non-binary person. They showed us the video they had created summarising the research, which went down very well, particularly the finding that most services for LGBT youth are in Dublin,

Dr Katherine Zappone, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, who has responsibility for the strategy, received a rapturous welcome. She spoke about how different life is for the gay community now compared to how it was for her as a young person.

There was a break for networking and ice-cream! I took the time to sit and read the report from cover to cover as I found it fascinating and feel it will inform my committee’s outlook on sexuality and gender issues.

After lunch, no stranger to IGG, James Kavanagh had us in the palm of his hand with his hilarious anecdotes. However, he also told us about the bullying he received before he was out. He repeated a story he had told when he appeared on The Late Late Show with his brother John. It was about a classmate putting a stop to a vicious note circulating about him. It was the first time he realised there were good people out there who would accept him for who he is. He emphasised the progress made by the LGB community and how, although not perfect, most people have a good quality of life. It is not the same for trans people and he implored all those in the room to help progress trans rights.

We met Jack Murphy, the first trans actor to appear on Fair City and he was a great storyteller too. He spoke about the support he gets from fellow actors and YouTubers and encouraged the committee in their work.

The entire day was filled with love, positivity and acceptance. It was one of the most inspiring events I have ever attended and I would like to thank IGG for sending me.


Sources: Department of Children and Youth Affairs