The Minister for Education, Norma Foley, has pressed ahead with including gender ideology in the Junior Cert curriculum, despite widespread opposition from educators and from parents who say they made up the ‘vast majority’ of public submissions on the issue, and claim their views, and their concerns that harm that may be done to children, are being ignored.
Yesterday, the national curriculum authority, NCCA, released the new SPHE course for the Junior Cert which has been approved by the Minister.
One leading psychotherapist, who examined a draft SPHE book based on the curriculum said that the gender theory belief system was being offered “without a preface that highlights that all this is based upon a theory that is not supported by scientific evidence”.
The new SPHE course requires that schools teach children from First Year upwards (12 and 13 years olds) that gender be distinguished from biological sex – and that a student’s gender “may or may not correspond with the sex registered at birth”.
Further, it insists that: “when children are born, their sex is largely decided or ‘assigned’ on the basis of their external genitalia” – and teaches that students may have more than one gender.
As previously revealed on Gript, groups representing parents and educators, said that the NCCA seemed to have “deliberately downplayed” the fact that the “vast majority” of submissions made by parents on proposed new sex-ed classes were “strongly opposed to teaching transgender ideology and porn in schools.”
They claimed that “thousands of parents who made their voices heard to the consultation process on the curriculum were ignored and dismissed” while “undue emphasis was given to a select group of NGOs and individuals whose views are radically at odds with parents.”
4,353 parents are on record as responding to the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment consultation, while there were written submissions from another 55 individuals – and emails/letters from 317 individuals.
Parents made by far the most submissions – by a factor of ten to one – to the consultation.
Groups such as the Parents Rights Association and the Irish Education Alliance say that thousands of parents had contacted them to make submissions because they were opposed to teaching school students that ‘gender is a spectrum’, along with concerns that porn literacy would be taught in class; and that too much ‘early sexualisation’ of children was becoming a trend in the NCCA’s direction on sex-ed.
The NCCA has refused to release a breakdown of the submissions received despite repeated requests from this platform.
Today, parent and campaigner, Jana Lunden said that what was proposed amounted to a “damaging ideology” being taught in schools – with a danger of what she described as “social contagion” for children.
The Natural Women’s Council founder said that the Minister was ignoring parents and grassroots groups in favour of a powerful ideological minority.
She called on parents to become informed about the changes and not to be “left in the dark”.
In a joint statement the Irish Education Alliance and the Parents Rights Alliance described what was being taught as “indoctrination”.
“It is vital that developing children to learn to love the body they are born in and not to be taught they can or should change this in order to achieve happiest or personal affirmation,” they said, adding that a child who was struggling this should be met with one to one tailored support from parents and experts.
“What has being placed on the curriculum is nothing short of indoctrination,” they said.
“We simply cannot ignore the threat of this damaging ideology becoming a social contagion amongst our children; it’s not only the children who are having a hard time coming to realise their sexuality, or a hard time adjusting to their rapidly developing bodies, who are at risk here – this is being presented as a “life raft” to any child who is struggling to navigate adolescents and the normal development within the teenage years.
This social contagion will surely exasperate the nation’s existing mental health crisis,” the groups said.
They also claimed that “having spoken with countless teachers from around the country, it seems that every school has faculty who consciously object to teaching this to their pupils, though feel they are being backing into a corner and have no avenue through which to voice their objections.”
The groups were sharply critical of Minister Norma Foley for signing off on the curriculum and said that having gender ideology taught as “gospel” in schools could “lead to children and teenagers making life changing decisions including irreversible medical interventions such as puberty blockers, taking hormones and undergoing surgery.”
“Children and young adults cannot possibly understand the long term consequences which they may come to regret.” they said.
Campaign group, The Countess, said that “most people do not believe in gender ideology. To teach children this concept despite the values or beliefs of their family of origin is unacceptable.”
The Lawyers for Justice group said that gender identity ideology was a “damaging” theory that “has no biological basis” – and added that it was their belief that the new curriculum meant that schools could face legal actions from parents in the future.
“What the Department of Education have done is open the floodgates for parents to take claims against the Board of Management of Schools. Under Section 9(d) of the Education Act 1998, schools are under a statutory duty to promote the moral, spiritual, social and personal development of students. How can it possibly be said that instructing impressionable children on damaging gender identity ideology satisfies this provision?” they said.
“What about the statutory duty of schools to be fully committed to safeguarding children from harm under the Children First Act 2015 and their obligation to conduct Risk Assessments?”
“Where are the Risk Assessments on the potential harm that instruction on this gender identity ideology causes children or evidence of the application of Article 3 of the UN Convention on the Rights of a Child which states that in all actions concerning children their best interests must the primary consideration?”
“Schools have also a statutory duty under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 to ensure that they protect the emotional and physical welfare of pupils entrusted in their care,” the legal group said.
They said they were urging “school principals and teachers to take a long hard look at their statutory and professional duties towards their pupils.”
“In the UK, a group of parents whose children underwent transition surgery are now suing the Department of Education and schools for not protecting them from gender identity ideology. ”
This week, educational publishers released pdfs of books proposed for use First Year in the Junior Cycle, where students without gender dysphoria are described as being “cisgender”.
Page 183 of “Health and Wellbeing, SPHE, First Year, from the Junior Cycle Specification. Publishers: Edco”
From ‘You’ve Got This. Book 1. Junior Cycle SPHE, First Year. Publishers, Educate.ie.
The Countess, a human rights organisation, slammed the draft SPHE textbook by Edco as misleading, and they said the textbook “uses the manipulative and unscientific Genderbread Person infographic to teach students that sex is on a “spectrum”.
Leading psychotherapist, Stella O’Malley, who examined the section from the educate.ie SPHE book said that “while it is clear that the SPHE is making an attempt to offer an unbiased account of the gender theory belief system, it is concerning that they offer this material without a preface that highlights that all this is based upon a theory that is not supported by scientific evidence”.
The Chief Executive, of the Catholic Education Partnership, Alan Hynes, said, “Catholic schools will seek to propose the Catholic perspective on the full range of the curriculum, in dialogue and encounter with other points of view.”
“CEP will shortly be publishing a draft relationship and sexuality education resource for use in Junior Cycle. This resource complements and is in line with the NCCA’s specification and will assist Catholic schools in proposing the Catholic view on RSE in a confident and positive manner, while inviting students to engage critically with Catholic teaching and other world-views”, Mr Hynes said.