Local LGBT group highlight International Day Against Homophobia

Senator David Norris presented books on behalf of TOST? to the library. Pictured with the senator are Anne Marie Carroll, South West Mayo Development Company and Austin Vaughan, county librarian.

Senator David Norris presented books on behalf of TOST? to the library. Pictured with the senator are Anne Marie Carroll, South West Mayo Development Company and Austin Vaughan, county librarian.

TOST? the local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender group is highlighting its services in conjunction with International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO Day ) which takes place today, May 17. IDAHO Day is celebrated in more than 100 countries, with advocates staging hundreds of events and actions the world over. In Mayo, TOST? alongside the Family Resource Centre will have an information stand in the Mayo County Library; the library also has a selection of books available which celebrates diversity.

The Castlebar based LGBT group TOST? are so called as it is the Irish word for silence. This name was chosen by the group as it reflected what the group wanted to achieve—to break the silence surrounding LGBT issues. TOST? was set up in response to issues raised in the research carried out in 2008 entitled Needs Analysis of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Population in Galway and Mayo and Roscommon (2008 ), commissioned by Éamon Ó Cuív TD, then Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. It was supported by the Mayo County Development Board and South West Mayo Development Company alongside Le Cheile, the local FRC.

One of its goals which was to establish a safe forum for young LGBT people to explore issues affecting their lives, which has now been put in place with a youth group which meets regularly in Castlebar for ages 14 to 18 and is supported by the Neighbourhood Youth Project. TOST? meetings are held monthly, so that LGBT people can meet to further identify issues they would like to see raised, or simply to share the company of others.

Over the past three years TOST? has organised events, such as providing LGBT awareness training for local services; hosting an information evening on civil partnerships and running a workshop on effective lobbying skills. TOST? has donated 30 books which celebrate diversity to the Mayo County Library, which were presented by Senator David Norris. Members of TOST? have also provided LGBT Awareness training for (secondary ) school principals and participated in the wider LGBT strategy group for the region, co-ordinated by LGBT Diversity. TOST? representatives took part in the Parenting Support information event run by the HSE under suicide prevention and a representative from TOST? continues to meet regularly with the Mayo Positive Mental Health initiative.

TOST? also provides a social network for members, which is essential in combating isolation in a rural area like Mayo, and an LGBT choir for the west is now being formed.

For further information or resources relating to TOST? contact 094 902 5126; www.lgbtmayo.com; www.facebook.com/mayotost1.

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