American rapper Lil Nas X took to Twitter yesterday to share a meme with his 4.5 million followers. The ‘Old Town Road’ singer posted a picture from a 2006 Irish anti-bullying campaign that was spear-headed by the Equality Authority and BeLonG To Youth Services.
The image shows three students with the slogan, “He’s gay and we’re cool with that” written above them. Lil Nas X shared the picture adding the caption, “My twitter following retweeting my tweets”.
my twitter following retweeting my tweets pic.twitter.com/vzakLJHF97
— nope (@LilNasX) May 4, 2020
Last year, Lil Nas X made history, when he became the first artist to come out as gay while having a number one record. His single ‘Old Town Road’ remained in the Billboard Hot 100 for 19 weeks. Last year saw the artist pick up two MTV Music Video Awards, a Country Music Association Award and two Grammys.
The poster was part of the Making Schools Safe Campaign by the Equality Authority and BeLonG To Youth Services. The Equal Status Act had been implemented in 2000, which prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation, including in education. However, research carried out by James O’Higgins Norman indicated that homophobic bullying was prevalent in secondary schools in Ireland. Moreover, the anti-bullying policies of many schools omitted mention of bullying targeting LGBT+ students in their literature.
The campaign received the backing of the major educational partners in Ireland and was launched by Síle DeValera, the Minister for State for the Department of Education.
Niall Crowley, who was the director of the Equality Authority, acknowledged that while great strides had been made since the campaign, anti-LGBT+ bullying remains a problem in many schools. For instance, research carried out by BeLonG To last year – the School Climate Survey – found that 73% of LGBT+ youth cite bullying at school as a source of severe anxiety.
BeLongTo Youth Services re-tweeted Lis Nas X’s tweet saying, “We’re pretty cool with this – thanks Lil Nas X for sharing our anti-LGBTI+ poster. Sadly, there are many who are still not cool with it and we need every bit of support to stand up for LGBTI+ students – donate what you can.”
We’re pretty cool with this – thanks @LilNasX for sharing our anti-LGBTI+ bullying poster ? Sadly there are many who are still not so cool with it & we need every bit of support to stand up for LGBTI+ students – donate what you can ? https://t.co/ZCZwxH3Z69 https://t.co/sRHoWmCt0C
— BeLonG To Youth Services (@BeLonG_To) May 4, 2020
Michael Barron, who was the director of BeLonG To at the time, reflected on the conversation the campaign started, tweeting that, “It caused a huge commotion in some quarters, but was a key moment in changing the narrative about LGBT+ young people’s right to equal educations.”
Lovely when @LilNasX tweets a poster from one of your first anti-LGBTI+bullying campaigns, from 2006 @BeLonG_To / Equality Authority. It caused a huge commotion in some quarters but was a key moment in changing the narrative about LGBTI+ young people's right to equal education. https://t.co/WUiFBfwJSw
— Michael Barron (@MichaelNBarron) May 4, 2020
Eilis Barry, who served as legal advisor to the Equality Authority at the time, tweeted that it is, “Great to see a poster from the Equality Authority getting such prominence all these years later!”
Barry is the Chief Executive of FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres). FLAC is currently working to establish an LGBT+ legal clinic.
Great to see a poster from the Equality Authority getting such prominence all these years later! https://t.co/jsOEbEQADE
— Eilis Barry (@eilis_barry) May 4, 2020
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