The Proud Ally campaign aims to educate and empower everyone to harness core attributes and values to become effective and proud allies to the LGBTQ+ community.
This campaign was inspired by conversations at the Cork Work with Pride conference in July 2022. What started as a small idea to do a social media campaign has grown into a multielement, collaborative and impactful campaign.
Inspired by the work of the UCC LGBT+ Staff Network’s Rainbow Alliance, GAP is proud to now launch a Proud Ally network for you, the students. The Proud Ally website and resource hub, including a downloadable pack of Proud Ally digital assets was officially launched on May 17th 2023, International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT). This website will host information on becoming a Proud Ally to the LGBTQ+ community and aims to inform you about what LGBTQ+ allyship is. We aim to support you in becoming respectful, compassionate, socially responsible, and effective global citizens who advocate for their LGBTQ+ peers.
An LGBTQ+ Ally is someone who actively supports the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer community and works to end discrimination and promote equality through acting as an advocate for LGBTQ+ individuals. Allies believe that all individuals regardless of gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression should be treated with dignity, respect, compassion and integrity.
To be an effective Ally:
Take it upon yourself to learn about LGBTQ+ history, terminology, and the struggles that the community still faces today.
Check your privilege!Understanding your own privileges can help you empathise with marginalised or oppressed groups.
Don't assume that all of your friends, co-workers, and even housemates are straight.
Don't assume someone's gender or pronouns.
It is easy to call yourself an ally, but the label alone isn't enough. Oppression doesn't take breaks. To be an effective ally you need to be willing to be consistent in your support of LGBTQ+ rights and defend LGBTQ+ people against discrimination.Being an ally means you will often find that you need to challenge any bias, stereotypes, and assumptions you didn't realise you had.
Know that language matters.We form human connections through language. The majority of us respect when someone changes their nickname – accommodating LGBTQ+ people’s names and pronouns are no different.
Show it! Display your Proud Ally sticker on your desk, door, phone, or laptop.
Know that you will mess up sometimes – breathe, apologise, and ask for guidance
It happens - don’t panic, apologise, and correct yourself
Not sure of someone's pronouns? Ask them!
Everyone deserves to be treated with respect, compassion, and integrity. It is our responsibility be effective global citizens who recognise and challenge inequality and are socially responsible.
Despite Ireland being the first country worldwide to legalise gay marriage (Marriage Act 2015) by popular vote, members of the LGBTQ+ community in Ireland continue to face inequality, discrimination, hate and violence on a regular basis. Ireland is by no means a haven, ranking 54% on the Rainbow Europe Map and Index.
It is essential to be an effective and proud ally to the LGBTQ+ community if there is any hope of removing the barriers that exist in society, workplaces, and education, and creating a safer, more inclusive, and equal Ireland for all.
In the context of UCC
A recent report by BeLonG To highlight that 76% of LGBTQ+ secondary school students don’t feel safe at school. These are the students who arrive each year at UCC, and who deserve to feel safe and valued in university. It is our responsibility as Proud Allies to create a welcoming and inclusive environment in UCC.
International students at UCC and the legal status of homosexuality worldwide
There are some 4000 international students in UCC, from over 100 countries. International students arrive at UCC either for semesters or years abroad, or to complete their entire degree here. Many of these students come from countries where homosexuality is taboo or criminalised, often by horrific punishments, imprisonment, or the death penalty. For these students, some of whom may be members of the LGBTQ+ community, we must showcase UCC to be safe space where they can be their true selves. For those who aren’t members of the LGBTQ+ community, we must educate them on Proud Allyship so that they can contribute to making UCC a safer space for the LGBTQ+ community.
Rising homophobic attacks in Ireland
Statistics published by An Garda Síochána show a 30% increase in reported hate crimes over a 12-month period from 2021 to 2022. Members of the LGBTQ+ community are the second most targeted group following racist attacks.
This has led to calls from LGBTQ+ organisations for the Government, An Garda Síochána, social media platforms and society to act now to reduce the occurrence of harmful hate crimes. These statistics highlight the necessity of being a LGBTQ+ Proud Ally.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was signed in 2015 by all 197 member states of the United Nations. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are ‘an urgent call for action by all countries - developed and developing - in a global partnership.
However, there is a stark and worrying omission for a call for LGBTQ+ equality as well as a a call to end homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic violence. Where many other marginalised groups are named, LGBTQ+ people are not.
The reason being, over 70 UN member states legally discriminate against and/or criminalise LGBTQ+ people. However, by excluding LGBTQ+ people from the SDGs, it implies that the discrimination, criminalisation, and violence against LGBTQ+ is somehow tolerable.
The language of the SDGs is vague enough that LGBTQ+ people may be included under the ‘other’ groups, and in the call to leave no one behind.
67jurisdictions criminalise private, consensual, same-sex sexual activity. 11countries have jurisdictions in which the death penalty is imposed or at least a possibility for private, consensual same-sex sexual activity. 14countries criminalise the gender identity and/or expression of transgender people, using so-called ‘cross-dressing’, ‘impersonation’ and ‘disguise’ laws.
On July 1st 2023,
Florida will see
a new law come into effect that
will allow doctors and health insurance companies to withhold or refuse medical care to LGBT+ people if they object to them.
In April, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a measure, the Parental Rights in Education bill, that critics have successfully labeled the “Don’t Say Gay” law.
It bans instruction or classroom discussion about LGBTQ issues for kindergarten through third grade.
In addition, since the beginning of this year (2023), at least 32 bills have been filed in Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia targeting drag performances (Source: Suzanne Nossel, The Guardian).
A survey conducted as part of the project found that:
51% of third level students experienced verbal or sexual harrassment related to their gender identity or expression in the form of inappropriate questions about their body/sexuality.
40% were the target of verbal insults or jokes.
Almost 12% were the target of threats or intimidating behaviour.
Almost 50% of students felt that an administrative barrier/ institutional policy that limit their inclusion or wellbeing is limited gender options on forms.
Some 33% of students experienced difficulty changing gender markers.
Almost 30% had difficulty changing their students ID.
2022 Secondary School Climate Survey research findings from BeLoNG To:
69% of LGBTQ+ students hear homophobic remarks from other students.
58% of LGBTQ+ students heard homophobic remarks from school staff.
1 in 3 LGBTQ+ students have skipped school to avoid negative treatment due to being LGBTQ+.
Bathrooms, PE, sports facilities, locker rooms, and lunchrooms are spaces LGBTQ+ students are most likely to avoid due to feeling unsafe.
87% of LGBTQ+ youth report hate and harassment online.
“The worst experience I had was in PE. We were doing push-ups and I wasn’t keeping my back straight. Someone commented I had my ass in the air because I was gay. I laughed it, off but afterwards, he and two other students attempted to assault me.” -Anonymous response to the 2020 Secondary School Climate Survey
“I think a big part of my depression in life has been since I found out I’m gay when I was 14-15. At first I hated myself because of it, I used to pray and wish I was ‘normal’ because that’s how students in school treated LGBTQ+ people.” - Anonymous response to the 2020 Secondary School Climate Survey
LGBTQI+: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans+, queer, and intersex people.
Lesbian: A woman who is attracted to other women. Some non-binary people may also identify with this term.
Gay: Someone who is attracted to people of the same gender.
Bisexual: Someone who is attracted to more than one gender e.g. both men and women.
Pansexual: Someone whose romantic and/or sexual attraction towards others is not limited by sex assignment, gender identity or gender expression.
The external manifestation of a person’s gender identity. Gender can be expressed through mannerisms, grooming, physical characteristics, social interactions, and speech patterns.
“While often used interchangeably with “sex,” refers specifically to the behavioural, cultural, psychological or social traits typically associated with one sex, rather than biological characteristics." ( Human Rights Campaign. 2016. Transgender Inclusion In The Workplace: A Toolkit For Employers., United States, 49. )
A Non-Trans person (i.e. a person whose gender identity and gender expression are aligned with the sex assigned at birth).
Is a Non-Binary gender identity. Gender Fluid individuals experience different gender identities at different times. A Gender Fluid person’s gender identity can be multiple genders at once, then switch to none at all, or move between single gender identities. Some Gender Fluid people regularly move between only a few specific genders, perhaps as few as two.
This is a broad term often applied to Non-Cisgender people and Cisgender people who are Gender Non-Conforming; however, sometimes it refers more exclusively to the former group (i.e. Trans and Non-Binary persons).
People whose gender identity and/or gender expression is different from traditional or stereotypical expectations of how a binary man or woman ‘should’ appear or behave.
A person whose gender varies from the traditional ‘norm’; or who feels their gender identity is neither female nor male, both female and male, or a different gender identity altogether.
Gender Non-Conforming (GNC)
“Is a term to describe people who have, or are perceived to have gender characteristics and/or behaviours that do not conform to traditional or societal expectations. Keep in mind that these expectations can vary across cultures and have changed over time.” (ibid.) Gender Non-Conforming people are sometimes Cisgender, but are acting outside of traditional bounds placed on their gender social roles.
Refers to individuals who are born with sex characteristics (such as chromosomes, genitals, and/or hormonal structure) that do not belong strictly to male or female categories or that belong to both at the same time. Most individuals who are Intersex do not identify as Transgender or do not consider themselves covered by the Transgender umbrella.
An umbrella term for gender identities that fall outside the gender binary of male or female. This includes individuals whose gender identity is neither exclusively male nor female, a combination of male and female, or between or beyond genders. Similar to the usage of Transgender, people under the Non-Binaryumbrella may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms (as well as fall under Transgender concurrently).
While historically Queer has been used as an abusive term, some people have reclaimed the word and self-identify as ‘Queer’. For them, this reclamation is a celebration of not fitting into heteronormative norms or a radical stance that captures multiple aspects of identities.
The designation of a person at birth as male or female based on their anatomy (genitalia and/or reproductive organs) or biology (chromosomes and/or hormones). The phrase “sex assigned at birth” (replacing “biological sex”) is a more accurate and respectful way to acknowledge the process of sex assignation that occurs at birth through a perfunctory look at external anatomy. It might not be possible in all cases (e.g. Intersex) to identify an individual as male or female at birth.
A broad reference to a gender outside of the male/female binary (but not necessarily the identity of Non-Binary). Some cultures and societies also have their own conceptualisations and categories of gender which are unique.
“Refers to people whose gender identity, expression or behaviour is different from those typically associated with their assigned sex at birth. Transgender is a broad, umbrella term and is good for non-transgender people to use. “Trans” is shorthand for transgender.” (Note: Transgender is correctly used as an adjective, not a noun or verb, thus “transgender people” is appropriate but “transgenders” and “transgendered” are often viewed as disrespectful.)
Transgender, as an umbrella term, encompasses transsexuals, genderqueers and other gender-nonconforming people. Not all people who consider themselves, or who may be considered by others, as transgender will undergo a gender transition.”
The process through which a person takes steps to express their gender identity when it is different to that assigned to them at birth. This may ( or may not ) include social (e.g. utilising certain pronouns or wearing clothing that better reflects one’s identity), physical (e.g. hormonal replacement therapy), psychological (e.g. meeting with a peer support group to develop self-esteem and self-acceptance), and legal (e.g. changing birth certificates or passport information) steps.
No person should feel that their gender is invalid or have it be dictated by restrictive criteria.
Pronouns are words used to refer to someone or something. For example, ‘The student went to the funfair, they had a great time’.
Gender specific pronouns are ‘he’ and ‘she’ which are usually used for men and women respectively. Many nonbinary people do not identify with these pronouns and choose to opt for more gender neutral pronouns like they or no pronouns at all. Many non-binary people choose to use gender-specific pronouns as these are not exclusively for binary people.
She is speaking
He is speaking
They are speaking
Ze/Zie is speaking
Xe is speaking
Supporting Non-Binary People
Ask people’s pronouns. It is easy to ask for someone’s pronouns at the same time as you are asking their name, it may even be a way to educate someone that not everyone’s gender matches society’s norms.
Explore gender-neutral toilet options in your locality. Any trans person will be grateful of the safe space to use the toilet without fear of harassment.
Educate yourself. Learn about different pronouns, genders and experiences.
Don’t ask intrusive questions. Just because someone uses pronouns or identifies in a way that isn’t the norm, doesn’t mean they are a walking encyclopaedia.
Correct others respectfully. If someone misgenders any trans person and that person is out – quietly and respectfully correct the person.
LGBTQ+ History in Ireland
Equality for LGBTQ+ people in Ireland has come a long way, but we’re still not there yet, as hate crimes are on the rise, laws remain lacking in some areas, and we rank 54% on the Rainbow Europe Map and Index. The below is a brief history of LGBTQ+ rights in Ireland.
Being an effective ally goes hand in hand with developing core attributes and values. To be a Proud Ally you need to educate yourself on the challenges LGBTQ+ individuals face, and spend some time reflecting on who you are, what matters to you, and how you respond to different situations in your life. You need to understand, acknowledge, and challenge your own prejudices.
Attributes are traits that define our personality and how we approach different situations in our lives. Being a Proud Ally means you have well-developed attributes and are:
Socially Responsible and therefore take on a personal responsibility to act in the best interest of your community and society.
An effective global citizen who recognises and challenges inequality. An effective global citizen is aware of and understands the challenges facing others and takes an active role to make our society more fair and just.
Your values are the things that you believe are important in the way you live and work.
To be a Proud Ally you must have respect for others and how they live their lives. You must support them to be their true selves. You must have compassion for the challenges and discrimination minority groups face. Being a Proud Ally means you need to have well developed integrity. Integrity comes with being a trustworthy and dependable friend and confidant.
Click here to report a crime to An Garda Siochana using their online portal.
Current UCC Student
I started volunteering in a charity shop and they have a Pride flag on the till and it makes me happy that it's always visible throughout the year, not just for Pride month. I haven't said anything about my sexuality to them but it makes me feel seen and that I can be open about it when I'm ready. I think the little things are important too.
My uncle waited many years to come out. I was quite young when he did, and I don’t think I really understood what it meant. I remember how accepting and supportive my parents were at the time: he was still the same person and who he would go on to love made no difference to how much we all loved him. Despite my lack of understanding and knowledge, I remember feeling proud that my parents were his allies.
As I grew up, my understanding of the challenges my uncle faced coming out as a gay man became much clearer. I feel incredibly sad that for so many years, he could not be his true self.
Soon after the marriage referendum, I was proud to read a poem at his wedding, when he married a man he loves, who makes him happy, and who he can be his true self with. My uncle is kind, caring, a breath of fresh air, the funniest person I know, and it shocks me that to this day, living in what is viewed as a ‘progressive’ society, his sexuality is open to judgement.
I am angered when I hear of instances where he is not accepted in society - like when he cannot hold his husband’s hand in public for fear of discrimination. To his core he is an incredible person, so it makes me angry that to some people, his sexuality overshadows everything else about him: his personality, his character, the joy he can bring with a single conversation.
Members of the LGBTQ+ community should feel at ease being who they are, always. As allies, we must support the LGBTQ+ community by being by their side, creating an inclusive environment, listening, and speaking up.
The values my parent’s instilled in me and gaining an understanding of my uncle’s journey, have helped me to become an LGBTQ+ ally.
Educating myself about LGBTQ+ rights and history, having compassion for the challenges LGBTQ+ people face, respecting how others choose to love, calling out those who make anti-LGBTQ+ comments, wearing my Proud Ally badge, and working on this campaign with incredible colleagues, helps me to be a Proud Ally.
There is still a lot of work to do.
Clodagh O'Sullivan, Graduate Attributes Programme
I turned 18 in March 2015, and I was honoured that the first time that I voted was in the Marriage Referendum just two months later. My secondary school was a single sex, very heteronormative school, in Cork City, where I don’t know of anyone who was ‘out’ at the time. Nonetheless, it was a spirited rush that anyone who was eligible to vote registered in order to vote yes in the Marriage Referendum, before sitting our Leaving Certificate the following month.
The Marriage Referendum was a pivotal moment in LGBTQ+ history, particularly in the lives of young people today, as it’s the first momentous occurrence that we can remember. However, there is still a long way to go to achieve true equality, inclusivity, and a safer and more welcoming Ireland.
I am a Proud Ally for many reasons, for my LGBTQ+ friends and family, for those who are out and not yet out, and to play my small part in fighting for a brighter future for all. It has been a privilege to work on the development of the Proud Ally Student Network, and it has been a truly educational experience. I believe it is the responsibility of all allies to educate themselves, show respect, compassion, and integrity, and to be socially responsible, effective global citizens who recognise and challenge inequality.
UCC PhD student
I came out as queer while a PhD student / assistant lecturer / tutor at UCC. The entire experience has been overwhelmingly positive and affirming. From the services I interact with as a PhD student, to HR, to my colleagues and students, everyone has just got on with life as normal - where I am on the LGBTQ+ rainbow is simply not an issue!
Maggie O'Sullivan, Graduate Attributes Programme
I grew up in a tiny rural village in Ireland in a time where the word Gay and Queer had very negative connotations. Even though this was in the late 90’s, early 00’s, there was little school or parental education on the LGBTQ+ community, their history, terminology, and the very real hardships they went through to be heard and understood.
It wasn’t until I went to college that I really embraced and understood Queer culture. I can definitely say that I found my tribe in college, and this included the most amazing LGBTQ+ friends. Although, many of them struggled with coming out at first, our compassion, respect, empathy and love from each other meant that they could come out within their close friend circle. I remember feeling that I was privileged that they trusted me enough to confide in me and was in awe of their bravery.
At the time, Cork city was a hub for Queer Culture with many gay clubs and nights. I fondly remember the dancing, the diversity, openness, and the deep and meaningful conversations we had regarding the future of LGBTQ+ people in Ireland and around the world.
Many of my LGBTQ+ friends, although out to their close friends, struggled to tell their families, they were scared of not being accepted, respected and loved. As an LGBTQ+ ally and friend, I saw a huge shift in Ireland after the 2015 Marriage Equality referendum in terms of bravery to disclosing sexuality to family, friends and in the workplace. This was a huge stepping stone in Irish culture for LGBTQ+ education, communication and equality. Although we have made amazing progress in Ireland, now is the time to step up, check your privilege and educate yourselves on the amazing and diverse LGBTQ+ community in Ireland and around the world.
Are you a Proud Ally? Show it!
Display your Proud Ally sticker on your desk, door, phone, or laptop. Use a Proud Ally teams background for online calls and add the Proud Ally symbol to your signature and social media profile image. If you are involved in a club or society and want to display a Proud Ally symbol on the club or society website or social media platforms, get in touch and we can give you the tools to create it!
To be a Proud Ally, you must be informed. This selection of videos will help you learn more about LGBTQ+ rights, the challenges LGBTQ+ individuals face, and the importance of an inclusive environment.