Despite an updated Sex Ed bill passing Dáil committee stage last year, modern sex education is still not being taught in Irish schools.
As it stands, the current system, which is understood to be some 20 years old, offers no education on safe internet use or support or information regarding LGBTQ+ matters.
The Provision of Objective Sexual Education Bill, fronted by TDs Paul Murphy, Bríd Smyth and Ruth Coppinger passed the second parliamentary stage in April 2018 and has, ever since, been blocked from reaching the Dáil stage.
As it stands, both Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) and Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) are mandatory for both primary and post-primary students - however, what is taught is largely up to the individual teacher and also there is a legal obligation to stay within the ethos of the school.
A group who is not willing to wait for government lobbyists to cease is that of ShoutOut, a community of volunteers and activists committed to improving life for LGBTQ+ youth by sharing personal stories and educating the masses.
Since 2012 they have been delivering workshops in secondary schools across Ireland which tackle LGBTQ+ bullying, and have completed over 1,200 student workshops over the past seven school years.
They also deliver educational workshops for teachers, parents and guardians, social workers, youth workers, as well as workplaces.
In the past school year, ShoutOut volunteers have delivered more than 400 workshops in LGBTQ+ awareness and inclusion to 12,000 young people in schools and youth groups around Ireland.
Volunteers begin each workshop by explaining how they came to terms with their own identity and their experiences of being LGBTQ+ in an Irish secondary school.
Students then take part in a series of exercises designed to educate them on the full spectrum of LGBTQ+ identity and to prepare them to support their classmates who may be struggling.
“There is nothing small about ShoutOut," Executive Director Bella FitzPatrick.
"In the past 12 months alone we delivered more than 400 workshops. 67 active volunteers made this happen. We reached 98 schools, trained over 500 youth workers and spread a message of acceptance and inclusion to 12,000 students, all in the past year.”
For those keen to get involved, find out more about ShoutOut volunteer training here.
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