“I know that the anxiety that the Baptismal Barrier created, where LGBT-headed families feared that their children would not be allowed to access their school.”
The government has today introduced legislation to remove the Baptism Barrier from over 95% of primary schools in Ireland, effectively removing discrimination in school admissions based on religion.
Announcing the change, the Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton TD said: “It is unfair that a local child of no religion is passed over in favour of a child of religion, living some distance away for access to their local school. Parents should not feel pressured to baptise their child to get access to their local school.”
Welcoming the legislation, former Director of EQUATE, a organisation that lobbied for the removal of the Baptismal Barrier, Michael Barron said: “The work of EQUATE was deeply informed by the daily experiences of LGBT young people, for whom religious ethos in schools has too often been used to discriminate against them, and of LGBT-headed families who have disproportionately experienced exclusion from school communities.”
LGBT Parents Less Likely To Baptise Their Children
Barron, who is also a former Director of the national LGBT youth organisation, BeLonG To, added: “The legislation is very important for LGBT families. We know that LGBT parents are less lightly than others to baptise their children, meaning that their families have always been inordinately affected by the Baptism Barrier.
“I know that the anxiety that the Baptismal Barrier created, where LGBT-headed families feared that their children would not be allowed to access their school, and where baptising your child into a religion which opposes your family was not an option.”
Today’s announcement fulfils a key action in the Minister Bruton’s Action Plan for Education, which aims to make Ireland’s education and training service the best in Europe by 2026. It’s the most far-reaching reform of school admissions in the history of the state.
“Ireland has changed fundamentally,” said Barron. “We have had the Children’s Rights Referendum and the Marriage Equality Referendum. Removing the connection between religious belief and access to education, as this legislation does, is a major milestone on the way towards equality for all.
“The legislation is of particular significance to LGBT young people because it is an acknowledgement that the state no longer supports the connection between a religious belief system which opposed equality for the LGBT community and access to schools. This is a powerful message of equality and respect for these children and young people.”
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