Irish prison to hold first ever LGBT+ awareness training to combat the stigma of homophobia

40 prisoners will today take part in LGBT+ awareness training at Wheatfield prison in Clondalkin which is hoped to help close the gap in knowledge surrounding LGBT+ issues.

Irish Prison
Image: Alan Betson

An Irish prison is set to hold its first ever LGBT+ awareness training “as a chance to challenge opinions and prejudice”.

Wheatfield prison in Clondalkin is organising their first ever LGBT+ awareness training which will be held this afternoon, June 19.

Around 40 participating prisoners will discuss issues such as homophobia, racism and discrimination within and outside of the Irish prison system running as part of Wheatfield Prison’s Racism and Discrimination Awareness Programme.

Programme organiser and teacher in Wheatfield, Rose Kerrigan said that the LGBT+ awareness training will provide a forum for  “challenge prejudices” within the system.

“The LGBT Awareness training is an educational thing, it will be used to challenge opinions and prejudice,” Ms Kerrigan said.

“Sometimes we need to be challenged and have our opinions questioned, and it’s not just for the prisoners, there will be teachers in there benefiting as well.

“I teach social studies in the prison and you can see that there is a gap in knowledge into LGBT awareness, it’s not covered in the prison-like LGBT awareness would be in say SPHE and CSPE classes would cover it now.

“A lot of these men are fathers who have children growing up in a very different and diverse Ireland and they want to know how to understand that.

“So far there has been a very good response, We had the FAI Show Racism the Red Card in today and we got great feedback from their talks. We will have to see how it goes down and work off the response we receive,” she added.

Gillian Brien, Youth Work Manager at BeLong To, said the classes were a “huge step forward” for prisoners in the system.

“It’s a step forward for the Irish Prison Service (IPS).

“It’s very difficult to be LGBT in prison, you have a lot of toxic masculinity, so you have people at risk of homophobia and transphobia and this will give people a chance to talk about those experiences,” she said.

“We will be going over LGBT terminology and language and we will be challenging the stigma of homophobia and coming out within the prison system.

“We’ll also be tackling things like class oppression and how it affects upbringing and ideas.”

A spokesperson for the IPS said they were, “delighted” to have the training and “look forward to working and supporting this group in the future.”

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