Monday 16 December 2019

Prisoners to start ground-breaking LGBT awareness course

Wheatfield will host classes
Wheatfield will host classes

Inmates of Wheatfield Prison will today become the first group of prisoners in Ireland to be given LGBT awareness training.

The scheme at the Clondalkin prison has been jointly co-ordinated by national LGBT organisation BeLonG To and the Wheatfield Education Centre.

Gillian Brien, a youth work manager at BeLonG To, said the classes were a "huge step forward" for prisoners in the system.

"It's very difficult to be LGBT in prison," she said.

"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.

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

"We'll also be tackling things like class oppression and how it affects upbringing and ideas."


Workshops covering racism and discrimination within and outside the Irish prison system will also be discussed with around 40 participating prisoners.

Organiser of the programme Rose Kerrigan said the LGBT awareness training is an opportunity to "challenge prejudices".

"The LGBT awareness training is an educational thing, it will be used to challenge opinions and prejudice," she 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."

She said a lot of the men in the prison are fathers who have children growing up in "a very different and diverse Ireland" and they want to know how to understand that.

A spokesperson for Irish Prison Service said that it was "delighted" to have the training and would "look forward to working and supporting this group in the future".

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