Irish charity ShoutOut begins two exciting initiatives in June, with the June 29 launch of a guide for parents and guardians on supporting LGBTQ+ youth, and the release of ‘ShoutOut, ListenIn,’ a podcast discussing education about LGBTQ+ issues in Ireland.
A grassroots organization begun in 2012, ShoutOut has worked the last ten years towards its mission of improving life for Ireland’s queer community through educational workshops presented at schools, workplaces and beyond. With a focus on “Inclusion through education,” they inform their training modules by speaking directly to young members of the LGBTQ+ community and have now run more than 1,800 workshops.
ShoutOut’s new guide for parents and guardians contains a variety of excellent resources, including “information on the many different facets of being LGBTQIA+ such as the terminology, information on coming out, how parents can be supportive of their LGBTQIA+ children and how you can build an inclusive home for your children growing up.” The guide includes pieces written by politicians, activists, and community organizations.
“This guide aims to help and equip parents and guardians with the knowledge and information they may lack and ease the worries that some parents and guardians may have around their child being LGBTQIA+,” said former President of Ireland Mary McAleese, who contributed to the guide.
ShoutOut will mark the launch of the guide with an event in The Red Room at Outhouse, on June 29th. Beginning at 7pm, the event will feature ShoutOut Steering Committee member and creator of the guide Domhnaill Harkin and Executive Director of ShoutOut Aifric Ni Chriodain. Activist and former TD and Senator Katherine Zappone will give the keynote speech.
“Every parent or guardian wants their child to be happy. Mine did,” Zappone said. “What happens, though, when they find out that their child is trans or queer or lesbian? How do they help them to be happy, then? This guide offers savvy and practical pointers for answering these questions.”
The ShoutOut guide will be available in hard copies at the launch, and online as well. To RSVP for the event, email [email protected].
In ShoutOut’s other exciting new endeavor, their podcast allows ShoutOut to take to a new medium to, as the organization describes it, “continue… shouting out and educating about all things LGBTQ+.”
“In the series, we will hear from LGBTQ+ educators and others in the community about their experiences and the state of play of LGBTQ+ education in Ireland and further afield,” a statement from ShoutOut said.
Released on June 8th, the first episode of the podcast boasted the voices of a variety of ShoutOut celebrities. Hosted by ShoutOut’s Executive Director Aifric Ní Chríodáin and Steering Committee member Lisa Nic an Bhreithimh, the episode featured guests from way back in ShoutOut’s history. Two of the organization’s founders, Declan Meehan and Eoin Ó Liatháin, talked about how ShoutOut came to be, and one of ShoutOut’s longest-serving volunteers, Spencer Christie, spoke about seeing it change and grow.
Ó Liatháin and Meehan reflected on how they found community and acceptance in their social circle at Trinity College, and how different that felt from their time in secondary school. Their group of friends felt strongly that the acceptance and ability to be oneself that they had found at university should be the norm in secondary school as well.
“No one should ever feel that they need to hide who they are in school, where they spend their most formative years,” Ó Liatháin said in the podcast. The group resolved to try to facilitate the change needed in lower levels of schooling, and thus began ShoutOut.
Meehan, Ó Liatháin and their friends began traveling to different schools in order to educate students, letting LGBTQ+ kids know that life improves and they don’t need to hide who they are, and empowering non-LGBTQ+ students to support their friends.
Meehan noted that, while ShoutOut began in quite a humble manner and remained that way for a few years, it was clearly an effective initiative. “As scrappy as it was,” he said, “it was having an impact.”
ShoutOut received funding from the Trinity College Equality Fund and from the US Embassy, and it slowly snowballed into the registered charity it is today, a decade later.
As well as returning to the organization’s origins, the podcast allowed Christie to reflect on how volunteering for ShoutOut has changed over the years. The podcasters also discussed the challenges the organization has faced and how it has withstood the test of time. Looking forward, both Meehan and Ó Liatháin would love to see the organization reach beyond Ireland, supporting LGBTQ+ students all around the world.
‘ShoutOut, ListenIn’ can be found wherever you listen to podcasts, and if you have feedback or ideas, the ShoutOut team is happy to hear them at [email protected].
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