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Gay youth forum responds to criticism over material in Catholic grammar school

A gay youth forum has responded to criticism over the displaying of its material in a Catholic grammar school.

Declan Meehan, deputy director of Cara Friend, a LGBT-support organisation based in Belfast,  and organister of the LGBTQ+ Youth Forum said St Patrick's Grammar "is an excellent example of promoting LGBTQ+ inclusion and visibility in schools" and also "a fine example of true Christian ethos through that inclusion and visibility".

Parents of a pupil at the all-boys' Catholic school hit out after it emerged pupils were given information promoting a gay youth forum event to be held in Belfast.

"The LGBTQ+ Youth Forum's primary aim is to give voice to otherwise voiceless young people and to provide a safe space for them to discuss issues that are important to them, which are sometimes left out of mainstream discussions around what young people need," he said.

"An incident such as this highlights the importance of this Forum all the more.

"It is highly regrettable that the parents in this case felt it necessary to issue a solicitor's letter. Surely this should be the last resort after engaging with the school. As noted in this story the young person refused to put up the poster and was not forced to do so against his wishes, therefore no rights were infringed upon."

Mr Meehan added the poster "could potentially have given support and information to someone who really needs it" and that the "balancing of rights that would outweigh any objections this one family could have as it does not detract from any rights or protections afforded them".

Solicitor's letter

The Irish News reported parents of the pupil at St Patrick's Grammar School in Co Armagh were angered and have instructed their solicitor to act saying the information promoted a lifestyle they "vehemently disagree with".

The information circulated promoted a gay youth forum taking place in Belfast at the weekend and organised by a group which offers support to young people.

It's been claimed the boy - who has not been identified - was asked to put up a poster promoting the event by a teacher but he refused.

The parents have instructed the family solicitor to contact the school to ensure that a similar incident does not take place in future.

In 1988 St Patrick's Grammar School was established after St Patrick's College and Christian Brothers amalgamated to form the new school. It was opened by Cardinal Tomas O Fiaich.

Past pupils include former deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon and Armagh GAA star Oisin McConville.

The Belfast Telegraph has contacted St Patrick's Grammar School but they said they did not wish to comment on the matter.

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