Burke case: Trans pupil never asked for ‘they’ pronoun, parent says

In a significant revelation regarding the ongoing case against Enoch Burke by Wilson’s Hospital School, a parent of the transgender pupil involved has said that their child never asked to be called by “they/them” pronoun.

The Irish Independent reports that an email sent by the school to the principal in January by a parent of the transgender student revealed that the child had never made that request and that it was the parent’s view that “this whole situation could have been avoided.”

The newspaper report says:

A parent of the transgender student who Enoch Burke refused to call by a new name has said they were never told by Wilson’s Hospital School that their child was the one referred to in legal proceedings against the fired teacher.

In an email to the school’s principal in January, the parent said they only learned “the child in question is my child” after reading a court judgment which outlined what year the unidentified student was in.

“The school did not inform me and I feel now that there’s a safety concern for my family. This whole situation could have been avoided,” the parent wrote.

The parent also said their child had never requested they be called by the “they/them pronoun”.

They also expressed concern that personal information “may be out there”, saying they received a letter from the Co Westmeath school last August stating “my family’s personal data may have been stolen”.

Mr Burke was a teacher at Wilson’s Hospital school and says he was instructed by school management that he refer to the child by their new name and by  “they/them” pronouns.

He said he would not comply with the instruction on religious grounds, and was jailed for 108 days when he refused to obey an injunction ordering him to stay awy from the school.

The ruling of the Court of Appeal on March 8th showed that Mr Burke had, in fact, been told he was obliged to use ‘they/them pronouns.

On 27th May, the then principal, Niamh McShane, emailed the teacher, stating:“I am writing to you following on from the meeting last week (Wednesday [18th] May)regarding the request by a student and the student’s parents that the student be addressed as [new name] rather than [previous name] and that the identifying pronoun of they/their be used going forward.”

“While I recognise that it may be challenging for you in light of your own religious beliefs, in view of the ethos of the school and the school’s obligations under the Equal Status Act 2000, I expect that you will communicate with this student in accordance with the wishes of the student and the student’s parents,” the email said.

Mr Burke was suspended from the school, and after was then dismissed in January.

According to the Independent:

In an affidavit last August, the school’s chairman, John Rogers, said a meeting took place the previous May between the student, their parents and Ms McShane at which the then principal was advised the student wanted to transition and to be addressed by a new name and pronoun going forward.

However, the email sent by the parent said they wished to be clear that the purpose of the meeting was to “re-engage [their child] back to school”.

The parent also said that while the child had requested to go by a new name, “the they/them pronoun came from Wilson’s” and there was no principal or deputy principal at the meeting.

Mr Burke now says that he believes “the parent of the pupil who attended the meeting had no desire to see the school litigate or take disciplinary action against him.” 

However, Wilson’s Hospital School told the Independent:

“The student was clear that they did not want to use their previous gender-specific pronouns and all, including the parent, agreed that ‘they/them’ would be used going forward in the school.”


Share mdi-share-variant mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-printer mdi-chevron-left Prev Next mdi-chevron-right Related
Comments are closed

Do you agree with President Higgins that Irish Primary Schools "should teach sexuality in its fullest sense"?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...