Protest at Minister’s office: parents say they’re ‘ignored’ on ‘harmful’ RSE plans

Parents who took part in a protest at the office of Minister for Education, Norma Foley, in Tralee say that their concerns about explicit sex-education, including gender ideology, being included in the curriculum have been ignored by the Minister, and that protests will continue until that situation changes.

Protesters held signs saying ‘Don’t sexualise small children” and ‘keep pornography out of schools”, while speakers expressed concern about the harm that may be caused to schoolchildren by teaching that biological sex is different to gender.

“We will keep up protests until the Minister listens to parents, who are the primary educators of our children, instead of activists like TENI who have undue influence in shaping the curriculum,” one parent told Gript.

Gript asked Minister Foley to respond to the claims that emails and messages of concern from parents had been ignored, but no response has been received to date.

While parents were invited to make submissions to the design of a new SPHE curriculum, overseen by Minister Foley’s department, groups like the Parents Rights Alliance say that the views of the vast majority of parents, who opposed much of what is in the new course, were ignored.

Local parents told Gript that they felt the Minister has refused to engage with parents on the issue, and that the NCCA – the national curriculum authority – is listening to “activists and extremists”, instead of parents, regarding what should be taught in schools.

The revised SPHE course has become a source of much controversy after it was mooted that ‘porn literacy’ be taught in schools and that sex-ed classes would also target young primary school children, while a draft SPHE report describing gender as being expressed on a spectrum.

Minister Foley has received hundreds of letters from “medical professionals, parents, teachers and school principals over plans to reform sex education classes at primary and secondary school level,” the Sunday Independent recently reported, “with many people questioning plans for children to be taught about a range of subjects including masturbation, pornography and consent.”

Another parent, an A&E nurse, describes proposals “to teach and show pornography as well as masturbation to young children” as “shocking beyond belief”.

A primary school teacher questions teacher-training videos referenced in NCCA resources for the junior cycle, which instruct teachers “how to socially transition a primary school child from a girl to a boy”.

The teacher complains that NCCA resources also include books such as The Boy in The Dress and My Princess Boy.

A post-primary teacher says she is “deeply concerned about the graphic content” of books on the curriculum.

She says she will “remove my children from any classroom” that teaches any theory “outside a solid and scientific basis”.

She also says “teachers who do not believe in ‘gender identity’ should have the right to express their views without being bullied or called trans – or homophobic”.

Alan Whelan of the Parents Rights Alliance said that “as a constituent I had written several times to the Minister, my local TD, and had never had a proper reply.”

“I pointed out that previous Education Minister Joe McHugh had said that ethos would be respected in any new curriculum,” he said.

Mr Whelan said that the protest at the Minister’s office was entirely peaceful, attended by parents, grandparents, and teachers – and that the entirely valid concerns of the majority of parents could not be ignored.

Educators and parents say that the redrafting of the curriculum has been “hijacked” by non-governmental organisations, including those who want to teach the “unscientific theory that gender is a social construct,” one parent who attended the protest told Gript.

He said that parents were the primary educators of their children, and that harmful ideologies should not be taught in schools.

He also welcomed the support of Fr Seán Sheehy, a local priest who had spoken at the protest, and said that media reports around his participation were misleading.

“The Gardai didn’t “remove” Fr Sheehy from the Minister’s office. He left of his own accord. A small group from the protest went into the constituency office to relay our concerns to the to the staff, no-one was rude or abusive, and Fr Sheehy said that as citizens we had a right to speak our minds. The Gardai asked us to continue outside and we did.”

As it now stands, the new SPHE curriculum will provide 100 hours of teaching over the Junior Cycle for 12-15 year olds – and will address use of pornography and issues such as gender identity.

On RTÉ’s Upfront program in February, a researcher whose work informs the government on sex education in schools said school children should not be taught to avoid porn, because porn could be a force for good which for most people did “no harm”.

Minister Foley announced a public consultation on redrafting sex-education in schools last year, but while thousands of parents responded, the NCCA, who facilitated the consultation, stands accused of sidelining their views.

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 vast majority of those 4,353 submissions are from parents opposed to the changes favoured by the NCCA, yet the body was openly dismissive of parents – and even included in their report to the Minister the idea that parents would not have the right to remove their children from these new RSE classes,” the parents’ group said.

The NCCA has refused to give Gript a breakdown on the submissions received by parents – and it has also refused to name the nine experts within the HSE referenced in the report who were consulted in writing the draft report on the new sex-ed programme.

Despite almost a dozen emails and phone calls, the NCCA did not provide Gript with the information requested

Last month, after protests from parents, a Kerry school backed off in part from plans to have three floors of gender neutral toilets following pressure from concerned parents.

Local parents said the school and board of management went “behind parents backs” with regard to the “monumental” change to the toilets at 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 support the Governments plans to put calorie labels on wine bottles?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...