Irish teenager speaks out against LGBTQI+ discrimination during UN General Assembly week in New York

19th September 2022


Irish teenager speaks out against LGBTQI+ discrimination during UN General Assembly week in New York

UNICEF Youth Advocate Ruairi Holohan (17) from Co. Louth promotes mental health in schools


Ruairi and UNICEF spokespersons in New York are available for interview 

Photos available for download here

DUBLIN / NEW YORK, 19 SEPTEMBER 2022 – UNICEF Youth Advocate Ruairi Holohan (17) will meet leaders and advocates from across the world as they gather for the 77th session of the UN General Assembly this week. Ruairi, from Drogheda in Co. Louth, will speak out against LGBTQI+ discrimination, and share his views on the importance of mental health education in schools.

On Saturday September 17th, Ruairi participated in the Youth Advocates Mobilization Lab at UNICEF House in New York. And on Tuesday September 20th, he will join fellow UNICEF youth activists from around the world in championing children’s rights at a meeting hosted by UNICEF, the World Health Organisation (WHO), UNESCO, and the Government of Thailand.

The event will be attended by Governments and global educational stakeholders, and will explore how Governments can ensure every child enjoys their right to education in a learning environment that promotes and protects their mental health and well-being.

Speaking ahead of the event, Ruairi said: “When we talk about the future of education, the voices of young people, and their mental health, must be part of the conversation. I’m here this week to talk about what a quality education really means. Everyone I know has been mentally affected by the pandemic in some way. We need to step back and think about what we want from our years of education. What is an education if it doesn’t provide you with a space to learn about yourself, and your own mental health?”

Ruairi came out as gay at the age of 13 and is an advocate for the rights of the LGBTQI+ community. He is deeply concerned that young gay people deal with the daily threat of violence and abuse. His aim is to build respect and disrupt the stigma that young people like him face every day. He believes the education children receive in schools can have a positive impact on preventing discrimination and bullying of LGBTQI+ children.

Ruairi’s activism in New York builds on his meeting with Taoiseach Micheál Martin as part of UNICEF Ireland’s #KidsTakeover event in 2020. During this one-to-one meeting, Ruairi and the Taoiseach spoke about his experience of homophobia in Ireland, and discussed what can be done to increase respect for LGBTQI+ youth.

UNICEF Ireland Executive Director Peter Power said Ruairi’s important message would help shape discussions around the supports children and young people need at school. “Ruairi has an inspirational and timely message. He believes that all children, no matter their background, should get the support they need at school. All young people have a right to have a voice on issues that affect them, and it is critical that we listen and explore ways schools can have a positive impact on preventing discrimination and bullying of LGBTQI+ children.”

Over the course of UNGA week in New York, Ruairi and other UNICEF Youth Advocates from around the world will engage in a series of activities, including events, networking, bilateral meetings and media interviews to address a wide range of challenges facing children in education. According to the United Nations, more than 90% of the world’s children have had their education interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Other crises — conflicts, a shrinking economy, the energy crunch and food insecurity — have deepened the global education crisis, which in turn, is provoking severely negative consequences on many fronts.



Notes to Editor

Photos available for download here


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For more information, please contact:

Danny Smits, UNICEF Ireland, +353 87 1308070,

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