Today, The Rainbow Project and Cara-Friend, two of Northern Ireland’s support organisations for lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender (LGB&T) people, welcomed Education Minister John O’Dowd’s announcement that his Department would be bringing forward new anti-bullying legislation within the mandate of this Assembly.
In response to a question by Sinn Fein MLA Michaela Boyle on 23rd June, John O’Dowd said: ‘The current legislation stipulates that every school has to have an anti-bullying policy. It is the quality and rigour of those anti-bullying policies that have been called into question, by research carried out by the Anti-Bullying Forum and by anecdotal evidence that has come to hand, which is one reason why I believe we have to move towards bringing tighter legislation to the House to protect young people from the impacts of bullying.’
Speaking on the commitment to bring forward new legislation, Jemma Irwin, Education Equality Officer for The Rainbow Project and Cara-Friend said: ‘We are delighted that the Minister has signalled his intention to bring forward new legislative anti-bullying measures. The Rainbow Project and Cara-Friend, through our joint education project, have been very clear that in order for schools to effectively challenge all forms of bullying, including homophobic and transphobic bullying, there must be clear legislative requirements of what is expected of them.’
‘Minister O’Dowd has clearly demonstrated his commitment to tackling bullying and making schools safe environments for all young people and we look forward to engaging with his department to ensure the needs and expectations of LGB&T young people are met by this new legislation.’