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GLEN's work in education is focused on ensuring that schools are safe, supportive and affirming places for all students, but in particular LGBT young people. We work from the presumption that every school and classroom in Ireland is likely to have LGBT or questioning students. GLEN's aim is to ensure that every classroom is a safe, supportive and affirming place for LGBT young people.
GLEN's work in education has been based on responding to needs outlined in research. The most comprehensive study of LGBT people in Ireland to date is Supporting LGBT Lives. More recently GLEN & BeLonG To Youth Services have commissioned similar research which will be published later in 2015. The research will have special relevance to schools and how they may support LGBT young people.
Coming out in school
'Coming out' as LGBT while at school is a hugely positive step for many LGBT young people. It can be an exciting time but can also present challenges for some young people. School years are critical years for young people in developing an understanding of themselves and the formation of their identity and a sense of belonging. For some those years can be very difficult, especially but not exclusively, for those who identify their sexual orientation to be other than heterosexual, or their gender identity to be different to the one they were assigned at birth. For all young people, this time of formative psychological development impacts on future well-being and life achievements. Positive visibility of LGBT people and issues in the school context plays an important contribution to healthy self-esteem and identity.
Supporting LGBT Lives found that:
· The most common age that people become aware of their LGBT identity is 12 years of age
· The most common age that people 'come out' to another person is 17 years
Separate research has been found that the age of realisation of being transgender is much younger, the majority being aware before they left primary school (Kennedy & Hellen, 2010).
Support for LGBT Young People & Their families
- BeLonG To Youth Service is the national youth service for LGBT young people aged between 14 and 23. There is a large network of affiliated youth services located in most areas of the country, see BeLonG To website for exact locations and contact information.
- TENI (Transgender Equality Network Ireland) provides supports to trans young people, their families and their schools. See TENI website for more.
- Loving Our Out Kids (LOOK) provides support to families and friends of LGBT people. See website.