RTÉ 2FM will be running a station-wide campaign in cooperation with BeLonG To Youth Services in support of Stand Up Awareness Week, a time for second-level schools, youth services, and Youthreach Centres in Ireland to take a stand against homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying.

Running from November 16th-20th, this will be an opportunity for schools to look at how they can make school life more safe and supportive for LGBTI+ students. 

BeLonG To Youth Services is a national organisation supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender,
and intersex (LGBTI+) young people in Ireland. 

They advocate and campaign on behalf of young LGBTI+ people, and offer a specialised LGBTI+ youth service with a focus on mental and sexual health, alongside drug and alcohol support.

The organisation estimates that one in five young LGBTI+ people face bullying, and that 73 percent
of young LGBTI+ students feel unsafe at school. Despite the great strides Ireland has made to increase inclusivity, there is still room to improve.

David, 19, shared his experiences of discrimination for Stand Up Awareness Week and highlighted
why organisations like BeLonG To are needed to help end stigmas.

"I've only come out to a few friends that I feel comfortable telling. My family is very religious so I haven't come out to them yet because I don’t think they would be very accepting of me," he said.

"In ways, my family think they know me but they only know the face that I wear in front of them, they don’t know the real me," he continued.

Concerns about how family members would react was a common theme among the young people that spoke
to 2FM. Thankfully, however, there were plenty of positive experiences.

Lara, from Dublin, said that her family welcomed the news positively and that they began to hang pride flags from her house upon learning the news.

Meanwhile, 18-year-old Ellen, explained how she worked up a situation in her mind where her family
would react negatively but she was proven wrong once she came out to them.

"They were completely accepting and both my sisters told me that no matter who I was they would always love me," she said.

Robert, who is a transgender man, shared how important BeLonG To and their groups have been in making him feel confident in his identity.

"I was invited to Arás an Uachtaráin in 2018 for the President’s garden party for youth empowerment and I gave a speech. Little did I know, Michael D. Higgins was listening to me and when I turned around he shook my hand," he explained. 

This is the second year that 2FM have teamed up with BeLonG To to support Stand Up Awareness Week. Tune in to RTÉ 2FM all week to hear more stories like these and for more information visit BelongTo.org.

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