Ofsted downgrades some schools due to curriculum problems

Let us be clear about this headline ‘Christian schools downgraded by Ofsted over homophobic teachings’,  it is ill conceived and really sensationalism at its worse; the report clearly states that the downgrade is about the curriculum, and it is illustrated in the following paragraph:

Concerns have been repeatedly flagged about the use of ACE in British schools in the past, with an investigation in 2014 raising concerns about ACE textbooks teaching that homosexuality is a choice, evolution is a lie, abortion is wrong, and AIDS can be avoided by following the Bible.

not just about homophobic teachings.  This is a long running problem between Ofsted and schools which are following the ACE curriculum, an import from the USA, and very obviously very right wing in its beliefs and teachings.

A Balanced Curriculum

I have no objections to any curriculum as long as it is balanced and fair, and importantly accurate and factual.  Our country has a long history of adjusting its curriculum as things have been found out that change our concepts and thoughts – we must not allow bigots to control the educational system and the lives of our childrenCurriculum, Ofsted, ACE and schools

A number of private Christian schools have threatened legal action after having their status downgraded by education watchdog Ofsted, partly for failing to “promote respect” for LGBT people and British values.

Source: Christian schools downgraded by Ofsted over homophobic teachings · PinkNews

Teacher to be compensated over comments on gay son

Bernie Marron says principal made critical comments about her son’s sexual orientation

 Bernie  Marron told the Equality Tribunal she was looking for an acknowledgment that what had happened to her was wrong and sought no financial compensation.

Bernie Marron told the Equality Tribunal she was looking for an acknowledgment that what had happened to her was wrong and sought no financial compensation.


 A primary school has been ordered to compensate a teacher after the Equality Tribunal found she had been harassed on religious grounds and discriminated against because her son was gay.

Resource teacher Bernie Marron took the case against the board of management of St Paul’s, a Church of Ireland primary school in Collooney, Co Sligo, which is under the patronage of the Bishop of Tuam.

Ms Marron (53), who worked at the school for seven years, said the principal made a series of critical comments about her son’s sexual orientation, saying a “normal boy” would not spend an afternoon shopping for clothes.

She said the principal also raised her son’s speech and attire at a valedictory service at a local secondary school. She told the tribunal he said her son’s pink blazer was not appropriate and questioned what kind of mother Ms Marron was to have a son like that.

Negative effects

Ms Marron said the principal – who denied the allegations – also made a series of comments which were critical or discriminatory towards Catholics.

She said the principal criticised the behaviour of Catholics in church, commented on the negative effects of Catholics joining a local Church of Ireland secondary school and referred to Church of Ireland members as “our children” and the “right people”.

Ms Marron, a non-practising Catholic, said she felt repeatedly undermined by the principal and complained to the school in September 2013. The issues, however, were not dealt with properly by the school.

The chair of the board of management, however, told the tribunal it responded to the allegations “as best they could”.

The principal of St Paul’s denied Ms Marron’s allegations and expressed shock that they had been made.

Regarding Ms Marron’s son’s speech, the principal said she herself had been upset by the boy’s comments about his classmates, which included her own daughter. The principal denied making any statement about the complainant’s son shopping for clothes.

The principal said she was shocked to learn of the allegations and said she had never discriminated against the complainant and had sought to include her at all events involving the school.

In its finding, the Equality Tribunal found as fact that the principal made the derogatory comments attributed to her by Ms Marron.

The tribunal found the principal’s use of the words “us” and “our” in relation to children and adults of different religions amounted to harassment.

Comments on the sexual orientation of Ms Marron’s son and her parenting undermined her dignity at work and amounted to discrimination by association.

Ms Marron told the tribunal she was looking for an acknowledgment that what had happened to her was wrong and sought no financial compensation.

The tribunal, however, ordered the school to award her €3,000 on the basis that the case would attract a significant award of damages in the ordinary course of events.

Equality training

It also ordered that the school undertake equality training to cover discrimination and harassment.

Ms Marron told The Irish Times she took the case in order to challenge a culture that allowed personal opinion and beliefs to override other people’s human rights.

“I was hurt and angry by the experience. No one should be subjected to judgment about their parenting or their son’s right to be themselves,” she said.

She also said the case raised the wider issue of the lack of an effective complaints-handling mechanism

Is religion ever going to give LGBT Students a break?

Editorial:  I have reprinted this article from the Advocate as it shows why keeping schools separate from religion is a necessity, and why the government in Northern Ireland should take heed and remove the various religious inputs that they keep ensuring.  I accept that religion and belief is a right for everyone that wishes to follow one, but not at the expense of other peoples (and in this case LGBT students) well being and safety!



There has been a spike in requests for waivers from compliance with federal nondiscrimination requirements.


With the expansion of LGBT rights, there has been a spike in the number of religiously affiliated colleges and universities seeking exemptions from federal antidiscrimination laws.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 forbids sex discrimination at any educational institution that receives federal funding, which most do in some form, be it research grants or student financial aid. But it allows any school “controlled by a religious organization” to apply for a waiver from the nondiscrimination requirement if complying with Title IX “would not be consistent with the religious tenets of such organization.”

“These ‘right-to-discriminate’ waivers were relatively rare until the last year,” reports The Column, a Minnesota-based nonprofit LGBT news site, with “a handful” of schools seeking them to avoid putting women in leadership positions. But in 2014, the U.S. Department of Education held that Title IX’s ban on sex discrimination also banned discrimination against transgender and gender-nonconforming people, leading many more schools to apply for waivers. Also, the spread of marriage equality, now nationwide after June’s Supreme Court ruling, has conservative institutions worried they would be required to treat married same-sex couples the same as opposite-sex ones — in access to student housing, for instance.

In the past 18 months, the Department of Education has granted 27 colleges and universities waivers from Title IX compliance, The Column reports. The schools are located throughout the nation, but the majority are in the South and West. Their combined enrollment exceeds 80,000, and in 2014 they received nearly $130 million in federal research grants and student aid. As of August of this year, another nine such waivers were pending.

The schools that have been granted the exemptions include Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina, Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio, Judson College in Alabama, East Texas Baptist University, Oklahoma Christian University, Spring Arbor University in Michigan, and Simpson University in California. Those with waivers pending include Biola University in California, Colorado Christian University, Ohio Christian University, and Multnomah University in Portland.

Some schools have sought the waivers so they could bar or expel transgender students, and some have targeted lesbian, gay, and bisexual students and staff as well, reports the site, which obtained the data through a Freedom of Information Act request. Many of them have used a sample policy by the Christian Legal Society.

“The trend of religiously affiliated, but publicly financed, colleges receiving exemptions from the U.S. Department of Education in order to discriminate against LGBTQ students and employees is disturbing,” attorney Paul Southwick, who has represented students in discrimination suits, told The Column. “While we are seeing increased protections for transgender, intersex, and LGB students through Title IX, we are also seeing the protections of Title IX gutted at the very institutions where students need those protections the most.”

This is recourse, however, Southwick said. He suggested that students or staff who have experienced discrimination file an internal appeal, with the help of a lawyer if possible. “Additionally, students should file a Title IX complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights,” he said. “This is important and should always be done. Even if their college has a religious exemption from Title IX, the exemption may not apply or it may not stick after being challenged.

Different Families, Same Love

Pro-Family Poster

Look: ‘Different Families, Same Love’ poster set to go into each Irish school

By John Mack Freeman

Just in time for same sex marriages to begin in Ireland in the next two months, a new poster has been released by the government that will go into each school. Called “Different Families, Same Love” (and featured above), it shows the full diversity of families, hopefully exposing children to the idea that family means a lot of different things. Via PinkNews:

Launching the poster, Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan directed: “This practical resource will be invaluable to teachers in creating inclusive classrooms. It will also aid in successfully implementing the compulsory Anti-Bullying Procedures.

“These procedures require every school in the country to engage in preventative and educational strategies to tackle homophobic and transphobic bullying. This poster will contribute to the work that primary schools are already doing in this regard and furthermore sends out a clear message to the LGBT children and LGBT-headed families of our society that they are welcome and cherished in our schools.”

General Secretary of the INTO Sheila Nunan added: “The INTO strongly endorses this poster and its use in all primary school classrooms.

“This resource sends an affirming and welcoming message to LGBT children and LGBT-headed families.

Youth empowerment: how to build GSAs in school?

ILGA LogoPosted: 30 July 2015


COC-Netherlands and ILGA-Europe are jointly organising a capacity-building seminar on supporting youth to start GSAs (Gay-Straight Alliances) in schools. The seminar will take 6-8 November 2015 in Amsterdam.

Youth empowerment: how to build GSAs in school?

Youth empowerment: how to build GSAs in school?


COC-Netherlands and ILGA-Europe are jointly organising a capacity-building seminar on supporting youth to start GSAs in schools. GSAs are groups of LGBTI and non-LGBTI people that want to create a safer school for everyone. GSAs are often named Gay-Straight Alliances but can also mean Gender and Sexuality Alliance.

The event will take place in November in Amsterdam. There are 12 seats available for this training. If you are interested, please fill in this form and send it back by the 1 September to Sophie Aujean, Senior Policy and Programmes Officer.

What are the expected outcomes of this training?

  • Participants know what a GSA is and the different forms it can take.
  • Participants know how to support teenagers in schools to establish GSAs in schools.
  • Participants are aware of lessons learnt from good practices and bad experiences when supporting teenage activism in schools and establishing GSAs.
  • Participants understand the links between youth empowerment, grassroots activism and the setting up of GSAs in schools. They feel confident to contribute to this youth empowerment.
  • Participants identify the benefits and challenges related to building a GSA in schools in their own context.
  • Participants know where to start and how to establish a GSA in schools.

Eligibility criteria:

  • To be an activist working (voluntarily or as paid staff) for an LGBTI organisation member of ILGA-Europe.
  • To be already working with schools (from primary schools to higher education) or intend to do so in the coming year (please provide evidence of this).
  • To reside in one of the 28 EU Member States + Iceland + Liechtenstein

Please answer the questions below in less than 150 words each:

Q1. Describe briefly your organisation

Q2. Introduce yourself and your role in your organisation

Q3. What activities have you (or your organisation) been doing so far in the area of education? Are you working with schools directly? If not, do you plan to do so?

Q4. Are there already GSAs in your country in other areas (e.g. workplace) or in schools?

Q5. What benefits do you think establishing a GSA in your context could bring? What challenges do you foresee?

Q5. What are your motivations to attend this training and what are your expectations?

Q6. How do you plan to disseminate the learnings from the seminar?

Information on logistics:

ILGA-Europe covers the accommodation and travel costs of 12 participants, arrival on 6 November (afternoon) and departure on 8 November (afternoon). A daily subsistence allowance is provided. Please note that we might ask participants to share twin rooms.

Thank you very much for your interest in attending this training!

How Austerity Killed the Humanities

Editorial:  For those of you who have followed this blog, you will have noticed my interest in education – no matter from which country it is being generated.  My worries have in general been about the level of education being offered, and about how so many of our students leave without education.  In the following article, we can see that education in its broadest terms is being attacked by the conservative right in America, and I worry that this broad brush will be enacted with the United Kingdom because of austerity cuts.  What do you think?

In These Times with liberty and justice for all – WEB ONLY / FEATURES » MAY 19, 2015

Not long ago, the Right fought viciously over the teaching of the humanities in American universities. Now conservatives are trying to eliminate them altogether.

Few people are nostalgic for those culture wars because they were a fight between implacable foes. But in retrospect, perhaps we would do well to remember a time when all sides of a national debate believed that a humanities-based education was crucial to the survival of a democracy.

In the 1980s and 1990s, debates over the humanities were a major component of American political discourse. On the one side were conservative traditionalists who believed that all American college students should read the Western Canon—the greatest books of the Western mind since Aristotle—as a foundation for democratic living. On the other side were academic multiculturalists who believed that a humanities education should be more comprehensive and should thus include texts authored by minority, female, and non-western writers.

Those debates of the ‘80s and ‘90s were heated. Indeed, they were a major front in what came to be known as “culture wars” between merciless foes. Yet all sides in these culture wars believed a humanities education—history, literature, languages, philosophy—was inherently important in a democratic society. In short, the humanities were taken for granted. In our current age of austerity, this is no longer the case. Many Americans no longer think the humanities worthy of public support. This is especially true of conservatives, who in their quest to cut off state support to higher education have abandoned the humanities entirely.

Take the state of Wisconsin, for example. In early February, Governor and Republican presidential hopeful Scott Walker drafted a draconian state budget that proposed to decrease the state’s contribution to the University of Wisconsin system by over $300 million over the next two years. Beyond simply slashing spending, Walker was also attempting to alter the language that has guided the core mission of the University of Wisconsin over the last 100 years or more, known as the “Wisconsin Idea.” Apparently Walker’s ideal university would no longer “extend knowledge and its application beyond the boundaries of its campuses” and would thus cease its “search for truth” and its efforts to “improve the human condition,” as his proposed language changes scrapped these ideas entirely; the governor’s scaled-back objective was for the university to merely “meet the state’s workforce needs.”

When a draft of Walker’s proposed revisions to the Wisconsin Idea surfaced, outraged Wisconsinites (including some conservatives) compelled the governor to backtrack. Yet Walker’s actions are consistent with recent trends in conservative politics. Republicans today are on the warpath against education—particularly against the humanities, those academic disciplines where the quaint pursuit of knowledge about “the human condition” persists.

In 2012, Florida Governor Rick Scott proposed a law making it more expensive for students enrolled at Florida’s public universities to obtain degrees in the humanities. As Scott and his supporters argued, in austere times, they needed “to lash higher education to the realities and opportunities of the economy,” as Florida Republican and State Senate President Don Gaetz put it. In other words, a humanities degree, unlike a business degree, was a luxury good. Even President Obama joined this chorus when he half-joked recently that students with vocational training are bound to make more money than art history majors.

Such anti-intellectualism, a strong animus against the idea that learning about humanity is a worthy pursuit regardless of its lack of obvious labor market applicability, has deep roots in American history. President Theodore Roosevelt advised that “we of the United States must develop a system under which each individual citizen shall be trained so as to be effective individually as an economic unit, and fit to be organized with his fellows so that he and they can work in efficient fashion together.” Contemporary conservatives are thus merely following the crude utilitarian logic that has informed many politicians and educational reformers since the nation’s first common schools.

But it was not always thus. During the 1980s and 1990s, prominent conservatives like William Bennett, who served in the Reagan administration as chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities and then as Secretary of Education, argued that every American should have an education grounded in the humanities. This surprising recent history is largely forgotten, and not only because most conservatives now dismiss the value of the humanities. It is forgotten because the arguments forwarded by Bennett and his ilk came in the context of the traumatic culture wars, when left and right angrily battled over radically different visions of a humanities education.

Few people are nostalgic for those culture wars because they were a fight between implacable foes. But in retrospect, perhaps we would do well to remember a time when all sides of a national debate believed that a humanities-based education was crucial to the survival of a democracy.

As a leading conservative culture warrior, Bennett held a traditionalist vision of the humanities. He believed the Western canon—which he defined in the terms of Matthew Arnold as “the best that has been said, thought, written, and otherwise expressed about the human experience”—should be the philosophical bedrock of the nation’s higher education.

“Because our society is the product and we the inheritors of Western civilization,” Bennett matter-of-factly contended, “American students need an understanding of its origins and development, from its roots in antiquity to the present.”

Most academics in humanities disciplines like English and history, in contrast, took a more critical stance towards the Western canon. They believed it too Eurocentric and male-dominated to properly reflect modern American society and thus revised it by adding books authored by women and minorities. Toni Morrison was to sit alongside Shakespeare. As literary theorist Jane Tompkins told a reporter from The New York Times Magazine in 1988, the struggle to revise the canon was a battle “among contending factions for the right to be represented in the picture America draws of itself.”

Many college students agreed with the canon revisionists. In 1986, Bill King, president of the Stanford University Black Student Union, formally complained to the Stanford academic senate that the university’s required Western Civilization reading list was racist. “The Western culture program as it is presently structured around a core list and an outdated philosophy of the West being Greece, Europe, and Euro-America is wrong, and worse,” he contended, “it hurts people mentally and emotionally in ways that are not even recognized.” Stanford students opposed to the Western Civilization curriculum marched and chanted, “Hey hey, ho ho, Western culture’s got to go,” and the academic senate approved mild changes to the core reading list that they hoped would satisfy the understandable demands of their increasingly diverse student body.

A sensationalist media made Stanford’s revisions seem like a proxy for the death of the West. Newsweek titled a story on the topic “Say Goodbye Socrates.” University of Chicago philosopher Allan Bloom wrote a letter to the Wall Street Journal editor in 1989—two years after his book, The Closing of the American Mind, made a rigorous if eccentric case for a classic humanities education rooted in the Western canon—in which he argued the Stanford revisions were a travesty: “This total surrender to the present and abandonment of the quest for standards with which to judge it are the very definition of the closing of the American mind, and I could not hope for more stunning confirmation of my thesis.”

Bloom believed that a humanities education should provide students with “four years of freedom,” which he described as “a space between the intellectual wasteland he has left behind and the inevitable dreary professional training that awaits him after the baccalaureate.” Liberals and leftists might have been sympathetic to such an argument had Bloom not dismissed texts authored by women, minorities, and non-westerners as lacking merit compared to the great books authored by those like Socrates who composed the Western canon.

In retrospect, these culture wars over the humanities are rather remarkable artifacts of a history that feels increasingly distant. Whether Stanford University ought to assign John Locke or the anticolonial theorist Frantz Fanon, a debate that played out on The Wall Street Journal editorial page in 1988, would be nonsensical in today’s neoliberal climate marked by budget cuts and other austerity measures. Now Locke and Fanon find themselves for the first time on the same side—and it’s looking more and more like the losing one. On the winning side? Well, to take but one example, Winning, General Electric CEO Jack Welch’s breezy management book, which is widely read in American business schools. Sadly, even the almighty Western canon, revised or not, seems feeble up against Winning and the cult of business. Conservative defenders of the humanities are voices in the wilderness. The philistines are on the march.

The culture wars over the humanities that dominated discussion of higher education in the 1980s and 1990s had enduring historical significance. Shouting matches about academia reverberated beyond the ivory tower to lay bare a crisis of national faith. Was America a good nation? Could the nation be good—could its people be free—without foundations? Were such foundations best provided by a classic liberal education in the humanities, which Matthew Arnold described as “the best that has been thought and said”? Was the “best” philosophy and literature synonymous with the canon of Western Civilization? Or was the Western canon racist and sexist? Was the “best” even a valid category for thinking about texts? Debates over these abstract questions rocked the nation’s institutions of higher education, demonstrating that the culture wars did not boil down to any one specific issue or even a set of issues. Rather, the culture wars often hinged on a more epistemological question about national identity: How should Americans think?

But in our current age of austerity, Americans are not asked to think about such questions at all. Neoliberalism is fine with revised canons—with a more inclusive, multicultural vision of the humanities. But neoliberalism is not fine with public money supporting something so seemingly useless. American conservatives have abandoned their traditionalist defense of the Western canon in favor of no canon at all.

Andrew Hartman will be discussing his new book A War for the Soul of America: A History of the Culture Wars with In These Times Associate Editor Micah Uetricht at 2040 N. Milwaukee in Chicago on Thursday, May 21 at 7pm.  

'Homophobic bullying is stubbornly pervasive in society,” says Welsh equality charity

Reprinted from Wales Online: 16:18, 2 April 2015 By Liz Day

Rainbow flag at RCT council offices in Clydach ValeStonewall Cymru is calling on people to contact their parliamentary candidates for support in challenging homophobic bullying and hate crime

Rainbow flag at RCT council offices in Clydach ValeRainbow flag at RCT council offices in Clydach Vale

One in three gay pupils in Wales have changed their plans for further education due to homophobic bullying, according to data from an equality charity.

In the run-up to the General Election, Stonewall Cymru is calling on its supporters to contact their local parliamentary candidates for support in challenging homophobic bullying and hate crime.

Work to be done
Charity director Andrew White said: “The progress made during recent parliaments is something to celebrate, but we’re acutely aware that LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people still face bullying, discrimination and prejudice.”

According to the charity’s most recent research in Wales, 43% of primary school teachers said that their pupils had experienced homophobic bullying or name-calling.
Related: Wales’ schools failing to monitor homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying finds study

In secondary schools, this figure was even higher, with 89% of staff reporting that their pupils had experienced harassment for being gay, lesbian or bisexual.

‘Profoundly damaging’
Across the UK, the charity believes that 75,000 young people are being bullied for their sexual orientation, with more than half of LGBT pupils experiencing some form of bullying. According to the charity, the use of homophobic language in Welsh schools is “endemic.”

In Welsh primary schools, 61% of teachers reported hearing pupils use the expression “you’re so gay”, rising to 93% in secondary schools.

Related: General Election 2015: Head of Christian Party UK plans to stand as Parliamentary Prospective Candidate in Cardiff North

Stonewall says that bullying has a “profoundly damaging” impact on young people’s school experience, with three in five saying it impacts directly on their work.

With just over a month until the election, the charity has launched an equality manifesto, calling for developments such as measures to combat hate crime.

Bullying‘Bullying is stubbornly pervasive in society’


Mr White said: “Hate crime continues to be a miserable and under reported reality across Wales. Homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying is stubbornly pervasive in society.”

According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, police in Wales recorded 270 incidents of hate crime against people on the grounds of sexual orientation in 2013-14. Welsh forces also recorded 47 hate crimes against transgender individuals over the same time period.

But the charity believes these figures are the “tip of the iceberg”, as many victims never report such crimes.

‘Equality must sit at the heart of the political agenda’
Chief executive Ruth Hunt said: “A lot has been achieved during this parliament, but the biggest risk now is that huge achievements in legal equality may result in complacency.

“Legal equality is not enough by itself, we need to encourage our candidates to help change hearts and minds in their communities in order to achieve social equality.”

Related: Revealed: The best places to work in Wales if you are gay

She added: “Equality must sit at the heart of the political agenda and we will call out any instances of homophobia, biphobia or transphobia that we see from any political party or candidate.

“Political parties should be thinking long and hard about how they can help us fight for a world where every LGBT person can be themselves, and be safe, every day.”

Teaching our children that tolerance is everything

New guidelines for teachers will help primary school pupils understand LGBT issues to prevent bullying by teaching tolerance

Reprinted from – Katherine Donnelly   PUBLISHED12/02/2015 | 02:30

Beating the bullies: Teacher Cecelia Gavigan from Balbriggan Educate Together NS with the new Respect guidelines on teaching primary pupils about LGBT issues and homophobia. Photo: Arthur Carron

Beating the bullies: Teacher Cecelia Gavigan from Balbriggan Educate Together NS with the new Respect guidelines on teaching primary pupils about LGBT issues and homophobia. Photo: Arthur Carron

The age of 12 is the most common age for children to become aware of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) identity, according to research published in Ireland in 2009.

Typically, it is the age of fifth and sixth class pupils but there has been a lack of formal support in Irish primary schools to help teachers to deal with such sexual or gender identity issues, and the related challenges of homophobic or transphobic bullying.

Both are what are known as identity-based bullying – homophobic bullying based on actual or perceived sexual orientation and transphobic bullying based on gender identity: a person’s internal feeling of being male or female, regardless of the sex listed on their birth certificate.

According to the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO), identity-based bullying occurs in Irish primary schools and research shows a link between such bullying and negative personal and educational outcomes.

The recent controversy in Coláiste Eoin, a boys’ secondary school in south Dublin, which was forced to postpone a workshop on homophobic bullying run by an LGBT organisation, Shoutout, after parents raised concerns about pupils being singled out for not-attending, is an illustration of the sensitivities that surround such issues, even around teenage students.

Cecelia Gavigan, a teacher at Balbriggan Educate Together and a member of the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation’s LGBT group, is crystal clear about the need to start the conversation about identity and related issues as early as junior infants, couched in a wider context of respecting diversity of all types and therefore teaching about tolerance.

“Some people would have said that dealing with identity is a secondary school issue, but the research shows that it is an issue for children before they go to secondary school.

“In infant classes we are not talking about LGBT, but we would focus on different forms of families and how all families love each other. That is the core message.”

On that theme, last year, the INTO made a poster available to schools on the many ­different forms of families, including step-parent families, lone-­parent families, foster and adoptive families, LGBT-headed families, and cohabiting couples with children.

The INTO LGBT group has been involved in ­shaping new guidelines to help ­primary teachers to create a climate where not only is ­bullying around issues such as ­homophobia not tolerated, but that it doesn’t arise in the first place.

A significant proportion of bullying is rooted in a lack of respect for difference and ­Respect is the name given to the new INTO guidelines for its 40,000-plus members, both in the Republic and Northern Ireland, to give practical effect to anti-bullying procedures for schools published by the Department of Education and Skills (DES) two years ago.

Coming 20 years after the previous such official ­advice, it was a long-overdue update.

Among other things, there is now an onus on schools to recognise cyberbullying and identity-based bullying and to be proactive in education and preventative strategies around them.

The INTO called in the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) to assist with its ­guidelines and the union’s LGBT group came on board to offer practical advice about what teachers need. Cecelia Gavigan says even teachers in the LGBT group would have been unsure about how to handle LGBT issues sensitively and properly in the classroom,

“Even if you understand, how do you translate it for children?” she says.

The ­starting point for the guidelines is not homophobic or transphobic bullying, but respect for, and celebration of diversity.

“It is really important in primary school that we instil that respect right from the start”, says Gavigan.

When it’s OK, and not OK, to say ‘gay’

Research in the UK (there is no equivalent research in Ireland) indicates that 70pc of primary school teachers report hearing phrases such as “You’re so gay” or “That’s so gay”.

Children may hear the word gay when people use it to identify themselves. They also hear it used negatively, as a pejorative term meaning “rubbish”, for example: “that bag is gay”. Inappropriate use of language, whether intentionally or unintentionally, can be a precursor to bullying and needs to be challenged at every incident.

It is one of the issues addressed in the INTO Respect guidelines and the advice is:

Words that people use to describe themsleves are acceptable, eg: gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender

It is not acceptable to use the same words in a derogatory way, or to use those words to try to hurt or embarrass others

Challenge the child to use the words that they intended, eg “I I don’t like that bag because I don’t like the colour”.

Irish Independent

NUS: Less than 20% of students discuss LGBT issues in sex education

The NUS is calling for statutory SRE in all schoolsAn interesting survey, I wonder how much slant the survey took when students from Northern Ireland were incorporated – indeed what is not indicated is whether Queen’s University, Belfast or the Ulster University were included in the survey.


Less than a fifth of all university students discussed LGBT issues in their Sex and Relationships Education (SRE), a survey by the National Union of Students (NUS) reveals.

Gaps in teaching were uncovered, with three-quarters (75%) saying they found out about sex and relationships through friends.

According to respondents, consent was never touched upon in lessons for two-thirds of them, while relationships were covered for less than half.

The NUS said more than a third did not rate their SRE positively on equality and diversity, with less than a fifth saying they were taught about LGBT relationships.

More than half felt the issues they needed to know about were not taught, with only a third feeling they could practically apply their SRE to their real life.

Students agreed that porn was now a standard part of a young person’s life, but three-quarters felt it provided “unrealistic expectations”.


The union, which surveyed 2,500 students, said the results showed an urgent need for statutory SRE in all schools.

The NUS is calling for the measure to be introduced as part of its New Deal general election manifesto.

NUS Vice President Colum McGuire said: “SRE is failing millions. It is not currently compulsory for schools to teach young people about sexual consent and healthy relationships, and LGBT relationships.

“Ignoring all of this is just completely unrealistic. It will never go away – its life. Sexual consent, learning about equal and respectful relationships and gender stereotypes must be alien to this government as they don’t rate them high on the list to educate young people on.


“The government has a responsibility to provide a safe and reliable environment to explore sex and relationships. This is about providing the knowledge young people need in order to make good decisions for themselves.”

A Department for Education spokesman said: “Good quality relationship education is an important part of preparing young people for life in modern Britain, and our statutory guidance makes clear that it must be taught in an age appropriate way.

“Sex and relationship education is compulsory in all maintained secondary schools and many primary schools also teach it in an age appropriate manner.

“We also expect academies and free schools to deliver relationship education as part of their provision of a broad and balanced curriculum.

“We have set up a new expert subject group on personal, social and health education (PSHE) to support teachers, made up of leading professionals in the field, and will clarify the key areas on which teachers most need further support and produce new resources where necessary.”

The Education Select Committee will publish its findings on SRE in schools imminently, with the Conservatives yet to announce their position. Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats Labour are committed to introducing compulsory SRE


Statutory status would allow SRE to be treated as other subjects – with teachers getting enhanced training, and enough time being allocated in school time-tables for the subject to address real life issues including – respectful relationships consent and LGBT.


Original article:

Do we need more sex education?

sex-ed-1 sex-ed-2








According to PETER HITCHENS FOR THE MAIL ON SUNDAY in March 2010, sex education does not work and it is a ‘lefties’ plot against society and the family.; and Tory MP for Shipley, Yorkshire, Philip Davies, states it is a parent’s job to discuss sex education with their child not a schools!
So what does Sex and Relationship education aim to do:

SRE aims to equip children and young people with the information, skills and values they need to have safe, fulfilling and enjoyable relationships and to take responsibility for their sexual health and well-being.
SRE aims to contribute to behaviour change, including reducing unprotected and unwanted sex, and reducingsex-ed-3 harmful behaviour, including sexual offences such as assault and abuse

I t would seem therefore that in itself, SRE cannot do what the ‘government’ wants i.e. reduce unwanted pregnancies and also reduce sexually transmitted diseases. If society wishes this to happen then a radical change in all of our attitudes needs to take place. We must be open with our children and teenagers, and lead by example. How can we possibly ask children and teenagers to not explore their sexuality in a responsible way if we have government ministers and other MPs jumping in and out of other peoples beds, and having sex with people who they are not in a relationship with – and this includes paid for sex.

A healthy sexual appetite is part being human, but being responsible in how we mane it comes with education and openess.


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