Last week during an interview aired on WLR FM, Minister of State at the Department of Health, Mary Butler, stated that the use of transgender pronouns in schools was obligated “by legislation”.
During the interview in which Butler discussed the Enoch Burke saga, she stated “who I really feel for at the centre of all this is the pupil in that school that wanted to be called, and who was entitled to be called by legislation, by legislation they are entitled to be called by their identifiable pronouns whether it’s he, she, or them”.
She continued , “You’re entitled to be called by ‘them’ and I just think every time I see a report on the television about a teacher – who is entitled to his own beliefs – but I always think of the child behind this where a teacher feels they can’t be called a…where a teacher believes he can’t call them by their preferred pronouns or their preferred name and I just think of the child and the damage it’s doing to that child.
The minister added that every time she thought of the child at the centre of the Burke story she felt sorry for “the child and his family” and that “under legislation the child is entitled to be recognised”.
Gript made efforts to identify whether or not there is legislation outlining the use of gender pronouns in schools, but were unsuccessful in locating any.
We contacted Minister Butler to ask for clarification on what piece of legislation she was quoting from in the interview but received no response. We made further enquiries to her personal secretary but were told that the minister did not intend to reply.
A spokeswoman for women’s advocacy group, The Countess, told Gript that “In Ireland an individual has no legal right to insist that they be called by their preferred pronouns. It is not discriminatory to refuse to comply.”
“The Equal Status Acts 2000 – 2018 prohibit certain kinds of discrimination (with some exemptions) across several specified grounds”.
However, “Gender identity is not a protected characteristic.”
Gript also made enquiries to the Department of Education’s school governance body on the use of gender pronouns in schools, but at the time of publication of this piece, we are yet to receive a response.