Under-18s have a reputation for tolerance, but they are far from perfect – especially if you’re different. Four teenagers talk about their experiences
What do young people make of Ireland? How do their views on equality differ from those of their parents? Do they see this country as a welcoming place for women and minorities?
A survey released by Youth Work Ireland – in time for its # Equality17 conference on Saturday, October 21st – interviewed a representative sample of more than 1,000 young people from the 116,000 they work with.
Most of us l i ke to think we’re very open- minded, and even white supremacists or opponents of gay marriage usually deny that they’re racist, homophobic or intolerant, so the survey took a different tack: instead of only asking people for their own views on minorities and equality it also asked them to assess how tolerant other young people are.
This is similar to a political polling question which asks people to predict who they think will be elected rather than who they will vote for themselves. The answer tends to be closer to the actual election outcome.
When it comes to minority groups, young people’s tolerance levels differ, with 95 per cent saying that their peers are accepting of gay and bisexual people and that 89 per cent are accepting of transgender people. Another 89 per cent say young people are accepting of people of colour.
For all this, only 66 per cent say that they are more accepting and tolerant of Muslims, while 74 per cent say that their generation is tolerant of disabled people. The lowest tolerance figure – 58 per cent – was for the Traveller and Roma community.
This follows a recent survey which found that just 9 per cent of people would accept a member of the Travelling community into their family.
Overall, three in four young people say that they are more accepting of immigrants than their parents, while 91 per cent say that they are less influenced by the Catholic Church than previous generations.
We spoke to four of the people involved with Youth Work Ireland, and asked about their views on diversity in Ireland today.
Deborah Fakeye (16) doesn’t remember being born into direct provision. Her parents are originally from Nigeria, but she has only ever lived in Ireland. She is the middle of three children and lives in Moate, Co Westmeath. She is currently in fifth year.
Daniel Airey ( 20), is a second- year student of creative digital media at IT Tallaght. He has had cerebral palsy since birth. Dan describes himself as “a sports nut” but he had to give up wheelchair tennis following a hip replacement three years ago. He lives with his parents and sister in Dundrum, Co. Dublin.
Aloisa Dias is 14. Five years ago her fami- ly moved from Goa in India to Leitrim. She is a practising Catholic, but she rejects many aspects of the church’s teaching, including on abortion and LGBT rights. She has two younger siblings.
Finn O’Farrell (18) is a student of liberal arts at Monaghan Institute. He was assigned female at birth and now identifies as male. He started coming out as a transman at the beginning of fifth year, and to date his experiences have been largely positive. He has one little brother and two older half-siblings. For some of his extended family this article will the first time they learn of his gender identity.
Back home we were poor and everyone emigrated. My dad had already worked here for 10 years so the idea of Ireland wasn’t completely alien to me, although when I stepped off the plane from India I was instantly freezing. And for all I’d heard about Ireland, I was the only brown face in the class and didn’t know how to act.
When I was young I looked at my friends playing football and thought: why me? But I’ve grown up in this wheelchair and it doesn’t mean I can’t do things. When I was first born the doctors told my parents that I wouldn’t be able to walk, talk or write. They didn’t believe them, and they passed on that defiance to me. I’ve been defying and proving people wrong throughout my life. My identity? Sports nut. I may not be able to play but I love watching them. I love music and I love being young.
I’m a young black Irish woman with Nigerian heritage, but Ireland is my home. I’ve only been to Nigeria once for 10 days.
I always had male and female friends, but always got on better with boys. Growing up, I wasn’t allowed do “boy” things and I’d roar that I didn’t want to be a girl. When I was about 14, I heard the label “trans” and I knew that, actually, I wasn’t [a girl].
People expect that I am Muslim or Hindu and can be surprised to l earn I’m a Mass-going Catholic. In some ways my religion has helped me to fit in better in Ireland. I used to try and hide that I was Indian, and I’d ask my mum not to make me Indian food for my school lunches because
The level of acceptance and tolerence for Muslims The lowest tolerence figure was for the Traveller and Roma communities