Belfast Telegraph

Teaching about LGBTI+ relationships to be ‘explored’ in school curriculum review

The Oireachtas Education Committee recommended an overhaul of sex education taught in primary and secondary schools earlier this year.

LGBT protesters on Ha’Penny Bridge in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)
LGBT protesters on Ha’Penny Bridge in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

By Aoife Moore, PA

The Government has included teaching children about LGBTI+ relationships in the school curriculum review as an action in its new inclusion strategy.

The National LGBTI+ Inclusion Strategy 2019 – 2021, launched on Thursday, aims to improve the lives of LGBTI+ people across the country.

The strategy contains over 100 actions, to be implemented in the next 18 months, aimed at promoting inclusion and protecting the rights of LGBTI+ people.

Under the subheading Visible And Included, two of the actions listed are, “include LGBTI+ matters in relationship and sexual education curriculum review”, and “explore opportunities for the appropriate inclusion of LGBTI+ lives in the curriculum as part of curriculum review at both primary and senior-cycle levels”.

A draft report from the Oireachtas Education Committee in February recommended an overhaul of sex education taught in both primary and secondary schools.

The Provision Of Objective Sex Education Bill, published in April 2018 and sponsored by Solidarity-People Before Profit TDs Ruth Coppinger, Paul Murphy and Mick Barry has stalled in the Oireachtas, with Mr Murphy claiming the Government has used “executive veto” to kill the proposed legislation.

The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment is reviewing the relationships and sexual education (RSE) programme, and the actions stated in the new strategy signals that the Government may be planning for a change to what is taught in Irish schools.

I very much regret that Ireland is still something of a cold place for many in the LGBTI+ community Charlie Flanagan, Minister for Justice

Other actions include bringing forward legislative proposals to ensure that incitement to hatred and hate crimes against LGBTI+ people are addressed in law, and actions in crime and personal safety.

It was noted at the launch that some people in the LGBTI+ community do not trust or feel safe to contact the Gardai if they are a victim of crime.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said Ireland had much work to do on inclusion.

“We’re acknowledging there’s much more work to be done, the strategy is time limited and in the next two years we will see many of these issues being faced in a way that’s positive and inclusive,” he said.

“I very much regret that Ireland is still something of a cold place for many in the LGBTI+ community, as Minister for Justice we will ensure that we can turn that around with help of communities and implementation of the strategy.”

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Minister for Children Katherine Zappone said she was distressed the strategy was unfinished (Niall Carson/PA)

Specific workshop sessions were organised for the intersex community, travellers, asylum seekers, migrants and refugees and the deaf community.

At the launch, Minister for Children Katherine Zappone, who moved to Ireland “for love” with her late wife Ann Louise Gilligan, admitted she was distressed the strategy remained unfinished after a number of years.

“One thing I know about the strategy that is particularly distressing to me is that it’s unfinished, after a couple of years, and that’s already been referred to, is to resolve the outstanding issues around LGBTI families and parenting, and I’m sorry that hasn’t happened,” she said.

“That’s a key aspect from my perspective, but we promise to work on these with you, so that love can be done.”

Funding of 700,000 euro was allocated in the Justice and Equality budget for 2020 to support equality and LGBTI+ initiatives but it is not clear how much of the funding will be allocated to pursuing this strategy.

PA

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