Colaiste Eoin hit national press when they postponed at very short notice a workshop which Shoutout.ie were due to give to it’s Transition Year students.
The term postponed is important, the school does intend to run the workshop but has had to delay it due to letters which were sent to the school by parents of children due to take the workshop.
These letters would have automatically triggered a procedure were the letters and their contents would have to be discussed and be responded to by the Board of Management. Once the school opened the letters there was no other option but to postpone the workshop. We have no idea when the school got or opened the letter but them arriving that morning would explain why Shoutout’s team weren’t contacted sooner.
Why do I want my children’s school to have the same policies re external groups?
Because I have had the experience of only finding out that Accord the catholic marriage counselling agency were invited in to give a workshop on relationships (which only dealt with hetrosexual relationships) with one of my children when a text message was sent saying they class would be home early for lunch due to the workshop when the workshop had already started. http://www.accord.ie/services/schools-programmes
I rang the school very not impressed and had to arrange to have my child come home so we could talk about that situation and see if they wanted to opt out or return to take part in the work shop. They were not pleased at the situation and said the person giving the workshop never disclosed they were from a catholic organisation.
My children’s school does not have a policy of letting parents know an external group is coming in, The Gideons have been invited in and handed out their teen abridged bibles to my children in their class, with out prior notice or option to opt out my children who are not Christian.
Yes the timing of the postponement of Shoutout’s workshop was really horrid, but I still wish that I would be informed of external groups and be given the chance to object and/or opt out my children. I have been working to get my children’s school to adopt the same polices Colaiste Eoin operates under.
Yes in this instance those policies have been used by what seems to be conservative parents in relation to an LGBT workshop, but that does not mean that the polices and procedures are wrong.
I hope that Colaiste Eoin can have a Board of Management meeting soon to address the concerns of the parents and arrangements can be made to opt out those children if necessary, as it the right of parents to ask for as under out constitution parents are the primary educators of their children.
As for the comments about “both sides”, given that the Shoutout’s workshops ran for the last two years in Colaiste Eoin, the school may have been taken aback by the letters and whom ever made that comment was right in the context that the letters and both sides have to be heard by the board of management. It could be that the parent’s don’t want to opt their children out but just had misgivings and needed more information before agreeing to their children taking part, we don’t know as the content of the letters is unknown.
My compassion is with the administration of the school as they have been unexpectedly thrust into the national spotlight and have enough to be doing with running the school, dealing with the day today and the situation with out having to deal with press inquiries.
I know it may seems strange that a parent like myself who is an LGBT and Reproductive Rights Activist is standing up for those parents to excise their right to input in this situation but as I have said I think it’s a right all parents should have and all schools should be informing parents about which external groups are getting access to their children.