Katherine Zappone will help launch Ireland’s first LGBTQIA+ guide for parents, which is designed to “quell anxieties and help understand the community.”
ShoutOut, an LGBTQIA+ charity focused on educating the public, is launching the guide to educate and give information to the Irish public.
Launching on June29 in Outhouse at 7pm, the guide will include contributions from former President of Ireland Mary McAleese, former Minister for Children & Youth Affairs Ms Zappone, and transgender activist Dr Lydia Foy.
“Every parent or guardian wants their child to be happy. Mine did. 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. I expect greater happiness for our beautiful young people —and their parents—as a result,” said Ms Zappone.
The guide contains information on the many distinct aspects of being LGBTQIA+, such as terminology, coming out, and how parents can be supportive of their children by building inclusive homes.
Domhnaill Harkin, Steering committee member and the guide’s creator, realised there was nothing like it in existence in Ireland and felt that it was something many parents or guardians lacked information on.
He says that he came up with the idea from his own coming out experience five years ago, and how his mother reacted.
"When I came out at 23 years old, my mother had so many worries and questions, she completely accepted me but was worried as to what kind of life I would have. I realised there was no easily accessible information on what being LGBTQIA+ is, directly targeted for parents and guardians.
“She did not understand a lot of things. The experience made me realise that many parents fear when their children come out, they fear things such as the terminology, they do not understand what it means.”
Domhnaill made it clear that the guide is not “just for parents who have LGBTQIA+ kids, it can be for friends of people who are just coming out.”
During the eight months it took to complete the guide, Domhnaill and the team at ShoutOut spoke to people within the organisation and brainstormed what aspects should be tackled, including topics like religion.
“We spoke and thought about our own parents, asking them about their anxieties and feelings,” says Domhnaill.
Interestingly, the authors themselves found that they learned new aspects of the LGBTQIA+ community as they worked on the guide.
Domhnaill says that he “got a better understanding of why parents may worry. I was writing a piece on relationships, and remembered that when I came out, my mother thought LGBTQIA+ relationships were so different from heterosexuals.
"When at the end of the day, it is really not that different. They grew up in a culture that taught them it was different and alien to heterosexual couples. That was interesting. I understood them better, and they understood me better.”
The guide will be freely available on ShoutOut’s website with some hardcopies distrusted at the launch.