The USI’s annual Pink Training took place weekend, with over two hundred student delegates, sabbatical officers and campaigners attending.
The weekend – now in it’s twenty-second year – focuses on encouraging LGBT students to be proud of and confident in their gender and sexuality.
Held in UCC and CIT over the course of three days, Pink Training is an event looked forward to hugely every year by many students. Speakers over the weekend included Fine Gael TD Jerry Buttimer and trans* rights advocate Sam Blackensee (who appeared in a documentary on trans* issues earlier this year).
USI has organised Pink Training since 1992, and has committed to issues such as gender recognition legislation, the MSM blood ban and ending homophobia in Irish society since.
The issue of marriage equality loomed large over Pink Training this year, with workshops dedicated to campaigning and spreading the word about the referendum, to be held in the spring of 2015.
USI Equality officer Annie Hoey felt particularly strong on the issue: “This is the last Pink Training where we will be treated as second class citizens”, she said in a rousing closing speech yesterday.
“Next year will be a new kind of Pink Training,” she continued.
Certainly, there seemed to be few complaints about the current kind at UCC yesterday. One of the key elements of Pink Training is the acknowledgement of it as a “safe space”, somewhere where anti-LGBT slurs, harassment and ridicule is simply not tolerated. All of what is said at Pink Training is confidential and said to be met without judgement.
For many delegates, this is one of the few safe spaces they come across over the college year.
It’s a place where almost everyone attending identifies as LGBT+ and because of this; the atmosphere is one mostly of acceptance and happiness. Some workshops at the training are appropriate to this community, while some are generalised.
“Why aren’t these workshops run for everyone?” one delegate asked on Saturday evening.
Pink Training provides a much-needed space for LGBT+ students to learn and to express themselves, but some think that perhaps some of these workshops should be run on college campuses for all.
Despite the best efforts of the organisers of Pink Training, elements of hostility and exclusion did permeate the weekend. Pink Training makes an effort to include the more marginalised of the community – the bisexual and trans* people at the event – but often these groups can be forgotten.
This year, two workshops catered exclusively to bisexual delegates and several more discusses trans* issues.
The work to make an inclusive community continues, however, several delegates were unimpressed with some remarks made over the weekend.