Teachers group fear 'Yes' outcome could force them to teach material against their beliefs
A group of teachers have said that they “fear” a 'Yes' vote in the marriage referendum could force them to have to teach material that is against their beliefs.
Teachers and parents from across the country met outside Leinster House yesterday to launch a new campaign for a 'No' vote in the referendum.
They say that they are already being asked to teach issues about sexuality to young children and that a yes vote would mean that they could face disciplinary actions for expressing their beliefs.
The group could not say how many supporters it had but primary school teacher Kevin Leavy said he received concerns from “up to a hundred” teachers across the country.
He said that the passing of the referendum would mean teachers who give “preferential treatment” to a man and a woman marriage as opposed to a same sex one, would be seen as “homophobic”.
The group expressed concern over a proposal document issued by the Irish National Teachers Organisation issuing guidelines to primary school teachers on how to address terms such as ‘transsexual’, ‘homosexual’ and ‘heterosexual’ with young children.
They said that a yes vote in the referendum could force the Department of Education to make such proposals mandatory.
One parent, Helena Smyth (36) from Dun Laoghaire said that she was concerned that her child was “going to be taught something I don’t want them to be taught”.
Judith Dunne (37), from Bray, a mother of a three and a half year old girl said that her daughter was “still very innocent” and that she didn’t want her learning about sexuality at a young age.
The teachers were joined by Iona Institute’s John Murray who said that there is an “assumption” by the government that a yes vote would have “no implications whatsoever” on what teachers would have to teach children about sexuality.
“Its worth remembering that a lot of people are afraid to say that they want to vote no in this referendum and that’s teachers as well who are afraid to say what they think and that will make them stand out in some way as being not in favour of inclusion or in some way homophobic”, he said
“What we would be concerned about is if the referendum got passed there will be increased pressure put on teachers to have to teach about this because you’ll have a whole new re- writing of the family in the constitution”, Mr Murray said.