Outspoken Senator Gerard Craughwell has slammed a decision to tell primary school children to refer to their “gender-neutral teacher” as ‘they’ in the classroom, describing the move as “madness” – while a leading child psychologist has warned the school is placing the adult’s needs ahead of the children’s.
The Irish Mirror reported this morning that children from an Dublin Educate Together school – aged 8 and 9 – were told on their arrival back from the summer holidays that “their new teacher wants to be referred to by first name only, or the pronoun “they”.”
Barbara McCarthy reported:
It is believed to be the first time a school in Ireland has moved to accommodate a teacher’s gender identity within the classroom.
It is unclear if the teacher in question is non-binary or gender fluid, but has asked pupils to not refer to them by gender. Parents were not consulted ahead of the change, in the new school year, and some were surprised.
One guardian said: “The schoolkids shouldn’t be corrected for using ‘she’ or ‘he.’ These children are eight years old and it is confusing for them.
“It’s one thing for students at university being asked to use a pronoun, but this is too young. They’ll be worried if they get a pronoun right or wrong, when they should be focused on maths or spelling.”
The Irish Mirror also quoted psychologist Stella O’Malley as saying: ”Insisting on children using ‘they/them’ pronouns is in breach of the HSE’s Children First guidelines which recommend that adults’ needs should not over be placed before children’s needs.”
“The concept of being non-binary is complex. Some children will be fine with it, some uncomfortable, some will not accept this rule and some will believe they are being asked to lie.
“Other children will have religious beliefs that prevent them from viewing this teacher as they/them (or non-binary). Children with additional needs could be confused and distressed and might worry about ‘getting it wrong.”
The well-known psychologist and campaigner followed up with a tweet saying “Asking 8 year olds to call their teacher ‘they/them’ is inappropriate. This Dublin school should put the needs of the children first.”
Asking 8 year olds to call their teacher 'they/them' is inappropriate. This Dublin school should put the needs of the children first pic.twitter.com/W1kAQO9SWb
— Stella O'Malley (@stellaomalley3) September 8, 2023
Independent Senator Gerard Craughwell, who has been outspoken on the issue, responded to the report by describing the school’s decision as ‘madness’.
“Where does it stop? 8 year old kids have to address the teacher as ‘THEY’. Will we have someone identify as a cocker spaniel and demand to be greeted with a woff. For God’s sake, stop this madness,” he wrote.
Where does it stop? 8 year old kids have to address the teacher as 'THEY'. Will we have someone identify as a cocker spaniel and demand to be greeted with a woff. For God's sake, stop this madness.https://t.co/DbXq6ttbHu
— Senator G Craughwell (@GCraughwell) September 8, 2023
One Twitter user commented back: “This is a serious safeguarding issue now, telling children to disbelieve what they see with their own eyes, leading children to believe they can identify into or out of biological reality, that they can change their sex. Enough is enough.”
Another noted: “Singular they is used when we don’t know the sex of the person. ‘Someone called but they didn’t leave a message’. The kids know the teacher is a man or woman. They are not there to validate their teacher’s fragile, narcissistic identity. They are there to learn.”
While other addressed the teachers’ unions: “The Unions should be focusing on retaining and recruiting teachers not this nonsense.”
Jana Lunden of the Natural Women’s Council said that the instruction given by the school could take away “one of the important certainties that young children have, which is the understanding that they are a boy or a girl.”
“Asking a child to participate in this dance around pronouns is confusing for that child. It is not factual: a woman teacher is ‘she’, a male teacher is ‘he’, and a child should not have to participate in this confusion, this ideology versus fact, which amounts to indoctrination.”
She said that the Irish Education Alliance were assisting parents in opting out from aspects of SPHE and also from having their children forced to use pronouns to affirm an ideology.
Educate Together schools were supposed to be about removing indoctrination from schools.
They’ve been taken over by militant secularism with its own beliefs and values being forced on kids. https://t.co/7TirdSexyO
— Keith Redmond (@ExCllrRedmond) September 8, 2023
The Educate Together organisation told the Irish Mirror:
“Our office has not been contacted by anyone from the school community on the matter.
“Where issues arise at school level, we encourage parents and guardians to seek resolution by contacting the relevant school authorities.”