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Declan Buckley on drag, equality and why sign language should be officially recognised

Both his parents are deaf.

Image: RTÉ

DECLAN BUCKLEY HAS called for sign language to be recognised as an official language in Ireland.

The Telly Bingo presenter, who some people will know as Shirley Temple Bar, spoke about growing up with two deaf parents on Newstalk’s Moncrieff show today.

Buckley said the minority status of sign language in Ireland “needs attention”.

He noted that much has changed in Ireland in recent times in terms of equality, something he hopes will extend to people who are deaf or have hearing impairments.

Both his parents are deaf.

Buckley recalled how his mother was not allowed to study at UCD when she was younger as she didn’t learn Irish at school.

“When my mum was at school, she was under what they call the oral tradition of deaf education, which meant she was taught how to speak technically and phonetically and also taught how to lip read. And she went through her education in that ‘normalised’ way, which is kind of frowned upon by the deaf community now.

She wanted to matriculate and go to study in UCD, but because she hadn’t done Irish she wasn’t allowed to go to that university. So then Trinity College offered her a place and the nuns went mental because obviously back in the 1960s that was the Protestant college, so they found a way for her to get a scholarship and she went off to study in the United States … all because she doesn’t speak Irish.

His mother went on to get a degree in sociology and economics in the US.

Buckley noted that he didn’t know the sign language for gay until he came out at about 20 or 21 years old.

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Trans community 

Buckley also spoke about how some people get uncomfortable with drag performances as they challenge the labels we are most familiar with.

When asked if the gay community is as supportive as it could be of the trans community, he said no.

The honest thing about human nature is you tend to only fight your own battle and it’s a very special person that will stand up for somebody else primarily and first. They’re the heroes – the ones that go fighting battles on behalf of other people, rather than their own battles.

Buckley said groups like TENI are “doing a great job of creating allies” and starting conversations that will help remove some of the “ignorance, stigma and miscomprehension” of the issues faced by trans people.

Read: This Starbucks barista used sign language to help a drive-thru customer

Read: Dublin flooring company says Caitlyn Jenner ad is a ‘celebration’ of trans people

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Órla Ryan

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