University plans LGBT housing 'for safe environment'
The University of Limerick has launched LGBT-only housing to help students adapt to university life.
Those applying for accommodation for this September's uptake will be able to choose rooms for lesbian, gay and transgender students only.
College bosses say the move will ensure there is "a safe, secure living environment for all residents".
The homes are designed for LGBT people and those supportive or 'allies' of the LGBT community.
The blocks will come from the existing supply of campus property and the amount allocated will be demand-led.
The idea was suggested by a member of staff and was not requested by a student from the LGBT community.
The college has already had more than 200 applications from students across 30 countries. There are 2,800 student beds on campus.
Limerick is the first college in Ireland to provide the scheme and follows in the footsteps of the University of Sheffield in South Yorkshire.
Campus Life Services manager Carol-Jane Shanley, who is spearheading the initiative, said: "Campus Life Services has long been committed to providing the best living experience for students at the University of Limerick. This involves ensuring high-quality accommodation facilities and service in a secure environment for all our residents.
''It is with this intention of providing a safe, secure living environment for all residents that we came up with the Rainbow Housing Programme."
She admits rainbow housing will not solve the problems of every LGBTQ student.
"However, it can create the conversation in which people can learn from one another," Ms Shanley added.
"The best way to fight homophobia and transphobia is to educate and that's what we hope to do with rainbow housing."
Dr Amanda Haynes, co-director of UL's hate and hostility research group, said: "UL will be enriched by the presence on campus of a resource that encourages all of our LGBT students and allies to be active, critical, political, disruptive and constructive contributors to our collective campus life."