- 09 Mar 23
Alongside President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, a wide range of LGBTQ+ groups have shared their views on the update of the current SPHE curriculum.
President Michael D. Higgins decided to weigh in on the debate over updating the school curriculum, which should revise Social, Personal, and Health Education (SPHE). The teaching plan is to be presented by the government until the start of the new school year in September.
On yesterday's International Women‘s Day (8th March) President Higgins stated: "There is the need for the appropriate dissemination of basic information regarding sexuality in the fullest sense, by those responsible for providing education."
"The requirement for respect to be shown, and the right for it to be experienced, should be available to all. It is necessary that it be taught, encouraged, and its absence sanctioned."
Since the SPHE curriculum hasn't been updated significantly in decades, the government wants to modernise it.
Education Minister Norma Foley said on Tuesday, 7th March, that a "very significant public consultation" will be held to determine what will be included on an updated school curriculum.
From the Catholic Primary School Management Association (CPSMA), there have been calls against a reform of the subject, including trans issues.
It (falsely) stated that teaching primary children about transgender topics "would require to teach something about which there is neither a scientific nor social consensus to highly impressionable young children".
— Belong To (@Belong_To) March 6, 2023
The CPSMA's statement got support from the Irish Muslim Council, which said that "it is not appropriate to teach primary school children such a complex and contested topic."
Both statements have been criticised by LGBTQ+ activists and organisations. The queer and youth organisation BeLonG To said it was "deeply disappointed" by the comments from the CPSMA.
On Monday, 6th March, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said in a speech that it would "make sense" to teach kids about transgender topics. Varadkar sees the purpose of the education system in preparing "children for life [and teaching] them about the world."
"Trans people exist, they’ve always existed, and I think it makes more sense in schools to just inform children about the world around them", Varadkar added.
In his speech on International Women's Day, President Higgins further said that "any reflection on the COVID period must address that fact [that women suffered disproportionately during the COVID-19 pandemic]."
"Calls to Gardaí regarding domestic violence increased by 25% during lockdowns, while calls to the Women’s Aid helpline increased by over 40%,“ he noted adding that “These are central issues which must be looked at in any review of the COVID experience."
— President of Ireland (@PresidentIRL) March 8, 2023
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