Republican News · Thursday 12 October 2000

[An Phoblacht]

Students launch homophobia awareness campaign

The Union of Students of Ireland (USI) is launching a ``Coming Out Campaign'' to mark National Coming Out Day. The campaign will raise awareness amongst heterosexual students about the difficulties faced by lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) students in Irish colleges and universities. The USI claims that a number of students have recently received death threats due to their involvement in LGB student societies.

``USI believes that all students should be free to pursue their education without fear of harassment or prejudice,'' Julian de Spáinn, President of USI, said this week. USI, he said, ``have been greatly shocked'' by claims of threatening behaviour towards LGB students in third-level institutions. ``In one particular case, a number of students received death threats as a result of being active in an LGB student society.

``Last month, at Gallaudet University in the USA, Eric Plunkett, an activist with the university's gay and lesbian student group, was found dead in his dorm room. He had died as a result of an apparent beating. Our awareness campaign aims to ensure that such a tragedy never occurs in Ireland.''

USI's LGB Rights Officer, Diane Goldthorp, added that other instances of more subtle harrassment towards LGB students aren't simply a sad, but inevitable part of life for those students. ``We want all students to know that if they encounter discrimination and harassment, whether overt or subtle, spoken or unspoken, verbal, physical or sexual, from fellow students or staff they do not have to put up with it and they do not have to endure it alone. There are a number of steps they can take,'' she said.

Goldthorp is also available to help, advise and support at

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