Thursday 17 October 2019

'It’s very difficult in prison, you have a lot of toxic masculinity' - Irish prison to hold first ever LGBT awareness training

Wheatfield Prison
Wheatfield Prison

Callum Lavery

A Dublin prison is set to hold its first ever LGBT awareness training "as a chance to challenge opinions and prejudice".

Wheatfield prison in Clondalkin will hold their first ever LGBT awareness training tomorrow afternoon.

The LGBT awareness training will be  the first of it's kind in an Irish prison and is being joint co-ordinated by national LGBT organisation BeLong To and the Wheatfield Education Centre.

Running as part of Wheatfield Prison's Racism and Discrimination Awareness Programme, workshops covering issues such as racism, discrimination and homophobia within and outside of the Irish prison system will be discussed with around 40 participating prisoners.

Organiser of the programme and teacher in Wheatfield, Rose Kerrigan said that the LGBT awareness training is an opportunity to "challenge prejudices" within the sytem.

"The LGBT Awareness training is an educational thing, it will be used to challenge opinions and prejudice," Ms Kerrigan 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.

"I teach social studies in the prison and you can see that there is a gap in knowledge into LGBT awareness, it’s not covered in the prison like LGBT awareness would be in say SPHE and CSPE classes would cover it now.

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

"So far there has been a very good response , We had the FAI Show Racism the Red Card in today and we got great feed back from their talks. We will have to see how it goes down and work off the response we receive," she added.

Youth Work Manager at BeLong To, Gillian Brien said the classes were a "huge step forward" for prisoners in the system.

"It’s a step forward for the Irish Prison Service (IPS).

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

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

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

A Spokesperson for IPS said they were, "delighted" to have the training and "look forward to working and supporting this group in the future."

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