Teachers are speaking out against proposals to change the sex-education curriculum, warning that some of what is being proposed, including gender ideology, may put children at “huge risk”.
They have expressed particular concern about aspects of the proposed course which they say would teach children that their gender, being male or female, is actually experienced on a “spectrum” – and say that plans to teach about pornography should also be scrapped.
One SPHE teacher and co-ordinator, Mary Creedon, said that there was an “ongoing trend” in education of ‘over-sexualising’ children” which she described as “very worrying”.
In a video posted online, she said that the national curriculum body, the NCCA, had contributed to this trend by developing a “highly-sexualised RSE programme for 12-15 year olds with an almost obsessive focus on gender ideology”.
Ms Creedon quoted from supporting resources which said that gender was defined as a person’s felt internal and individual experience of gender, for example “cisgender, transgender and non-binary which may or may not corresponded to the sex assigned to them at birth.”
“It will create huge confusion and anxiety; it will make children doubt they have been born in the right body, particularly girls who may be tomboyish or boys who are feminine,” she said.
She also told Newstalk that one of the learning outcomes of the new curriculum was that students accept gender ideology – that gender is expressed along a spectrum – was a “core part of human identity”.
She said this was “not a biological fact” – and that there were two sexes, male and female.
Insisting on keeping the gender ideology outcome in the curriculum meant there was a “huge risk of causing physiological and emotional harm to children,” she said.
In her video, Ms Creedon said “Kids instead should be taught to love themselves,” she said. “To love the gender they have been born with.” she said.
And equally so, classes on pornography should not be on the curriculum,” Ms Creedon said.
“Please protect childhood,” she urged in the video, one of several released this week by teachers who are concerned about the proposed changes and who are urging parents to also speak up on the issue.
A protest will be held at the Dáil tomorrow by the Irish Education Alliance which represents both teachers and parents and who say gender ideology is being targeted at minors through the school curriculum.
On Newstalk this week, Ms Creedon also spoke to Kieran Cuddihy where she said that it was proposed that school children be told that their gender was “on a spectrum”.
She said that there was no scientific, biological basis for gender ideology but that it was being presented as fact.
She also pointed out that it was proposed that the gender ideology she felt was being espoused by proposers of a new SPHE curriculum would be integrated or infused in many aspects of the curriculum, making it difficult for parents to withdraw their children from being taught gender ideology.
On the same programme, Peadar Tóibín TD, said that the approach being taken in general seemed to be one of “gender affirmation” – an approach where children who said they want to change sex were unquestioningly supported without taking other impacts, such as mental health issues, into account.
He said it could lead to situations where children were altered radically by treatment including surgery which would cause them huge difficulties.
Previously, the Executive Director of Cork’s Sexual Health Centre, Dr Martin Daveron told Newstalk that teenagers’ access and use of porn is an “epidemic” , and said that sexual health and wellbeing education often neglects this.
“Pornography… we also have to include that and talk about that in our sex education curriculum. There is no point in avoiding it. It is a reality of modern living and we need to enable young people to navigate it safely,” he said.
However, the NCCA has noted that many parents who made submissions to their recent junior cert curriculum consultation were strongly opposed to teaching about pornography in schools.