An Taoiseach Micheál Martin mat with gay teenager Ruairí Holohan in a unique opportunity to speak about the impact of LGBTQ+ bullying as part of World Children’s Day last Friday.
Mr Martin hosted a one-on-one virtual meeting with Ruairí Holohan, UNICEF’s #KidsTakeOver 2020 winner.
World Children’s Day is a day of action for children, by children, and this year’s focus is on how to reimagine a better future.
Teenager Ruairí was selected by UNICEF Ireland for its fourth #KidsTakeOver of the Taoiseach’s office and he used the opportunity to call for more awareness and teaching of LGBTQ+ relationships in schools.
15 year-old Ruairí from Co. Louth spoke to the Taoiseach about his experience of homophobia and together they discussed what can be done to increase respect for LGBTQ+ youth.
Ruairí outlines his vision for a post-COVID world:
“My reimagined world is a place where I could walk down the street being the person I am when I’m with my friends, in school, or performing – when I’m happy. I could be myself, and every day would be Pride – there wouldn’t need to be a Pride parade.
There would be no need to ‘come out’, because you would just be yourself. My sexual orientation may be different to others, but that doesn’t make me different to other people. I don’t want any young person to be the target of hate or disrespect, or to fear being attacked verbally or physically.”
The Taoiseach told teenager Ruairí in response to his vision for a post-COVID LGBTQ+ world:
“What you are doing now is very important. You may not even realise it. Through life, we all change things, we have opportunities to do the right thing. You are doing the right thing. You stood up, you are affirming issues, you are raising them. That is so important for your peers. When you look back, you will have changed attitudes. We all can be agents of change in our lives and in our behaviour.”
Taoiseach Martin outlined his vision for a reimagined future for children: “The most important thing in life is education and learning. Where I think we can do better into the future in Ireland is in improving the quality of early childhood development.
“We learn more from the age of 0-3 than at any other time in our lives. Our brains are like sponges and attitudes form. At the earliest years you can inculcate the values we cherish, of tolerance, of diversity, of difference. That’s what I would love to see us do at the UN and at the European Union.”
Ruairí is just one of a group on #YoungChangemakers UNICEF has brought forward for meetings with Cabinet Ministers this week. They are raising issues such as youth mental health, inclusion and an education system that works for all members of society.
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