There is a planned protest at the Castleknock Educate Together primary school this evening over the school’s decision to invite Catholic marriage agency Accord to deliver relationship and sexuality education (RSE).
Accord last year were told they had to cater to same-sex couples or else their funding would be rescinded. Previously, the service had a formal policy against accepting said couples due to religious beliefs.
The protest has been organised by parents of children who attend the school as they are concerned the Accord marriage agency is a religious organisation whose stated goal is to deliver RSE within the context of Catholic teachings – in this case to students in 5th and 6th class.
Educate Together is a secular alternative to religious schools with the message “no child is an outsider” – a message parents feel is being cast aside. Parents have pointed out that there are secular RSE providers available, and these should always be first choice for an Educate Together school.
A parent shared with GCN that one of the most distressing issues is that “Accord refuses to talk about LGBT+ people and relationships, or even to discuss them in RSE, almost as if they do not exist. I believe that this silence speaks louder than words, that representation is critical to self esteem, that visibility is key to fighting intolerance – and Accord are effectively seeking to make LGBT+ people invisible in the classroom.”
The organisers shared that two sets of same-sex parents with children in the school are distraught and frustrated that an Educate Together school could be the source of discrimination and bigotry instead of the solution to it. They note that Catholic schools in the same area do not use Accord, preferring instead to have their own teachers deliver the RSE curriculum, or to have a secular provider give the content. So if Catholic schools are uncomfortable with Accord, why should an Educate Together accept them?
In a letter to the school principal, organisers had previously stated: “When parents enrolled their children at the school they were making an active decision to have their child educated in a school with particular core principles, not in a school which favoured one particular religious ethos over others.”
The protest will take place at the Castleknock Educate Together, Beechpark Avenue at 7PM this evening.
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