Wednesday 23 October 2019

Primary and secondary school kids to be taught about LGBTQ+ issues under radical new plans

The document, which has been seen by Independent.ie, calls for the current curriculum to be updated Picture: Arthur Carron
The document, which has been seen by Independent.ie, calls for the current curriculum to be updated Picture: Arthur Carron
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Primary and secondary school children will be taught about gay, lesbian and transgender relationships under radical new plans for the State’s sex education programme.

A draft report from the Oireachtas Education Committee recommends a major overhaul of sex education taught in both primary and secondary schools.

The document, which has been seen by Independent.ie, calls for the current curriculum to be updated to take into account the significant changes in change Irish society.

Its says the sex education programme should be “fully inclusive of LGBTQ+ relationships and experiences including sexual orientation, gender identity and the spectrums thereof”.

“Consideration should be given to the inclusion within curriculums of LGBTQ+ specific sexual health issues and the presentation of LGBT relationships without distinction as to their heterosexual counterparts,” it adds.

The draft says the updated curriculum should be taught in primary schools in an “age and developmentally appropriate manner”.

It adds that the programme should give consideration to the “significant and welcome changes that have taken place in Ireland in order to produce a gender equality-based, inclusive, holistic, creative, empowering and protective curriculum”.

It also calls for the introduction of a system for monitoring and recording incidences of homophobic or transphobic bullying which would be overseen by the Department of Education.

Primary and secondary school teachers would also have to provide classes on sexual consent under the reforms. 

A specific curriculum on sex education for people with intellectual disabilities, which would classes on sexuality and contraception, is also proposed.

The document also recommends changing legislation to ensure schools, such as those owned by the Catholic Church, are required to teach the new sex education programme even if it is against their ethos.

It says “clarity and direction” should be given by the Department of Education on how schools and colleges, under religious patronage, should implement the new programme so that “all children and young people are treated equally”.

The committee notes there was a consensus from witness around the need for more education on pornography and abortion in schools. However, the draft report does not make recommendation on either issue.

More training and resources would be given to schools and teachers as part of the overhaul of the sex education curriculum.

In her forward to the document, Education Committee chair Fiona O’Loughlin says: “the curriculum needs to be inclusive of all students and to give a voice to LGBTQ+ students and those with special intellectual needs who are often overlooked in this area.”

“To achieve this, the curriculum must be reviewed, to reflect today’s society and must be delivered in a consistent manner to all students and from an earlier age so that it becomes embedded in our children’s social development,” she adds.

The Committee is due to discuss the draft report today before signing off on a final version which will be sent to Education Minister Joe McHugh.

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