LGBTQ+ community members and allies are expressing concern over a church-organised “Parents’ Information” meeting at The National Stadium in Dublin in response to the new Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE) course created for Irish students.
The parents’ meeting was organised by Christian Voice Ireland, a notoriously anti-LGBTQ+ organisation that is a registered charity with ample resources and funding. Its statement of faith says: “The Bible teaches that gender is unchangeable…and that the expression of human sexuality is to be limited to the marital relationship of one man and one woman only.”
According to multiple sources, the church hosts large weekly events which include anti-vax conspiracy theories and far-right hate aimed at the LGBTQ+ community. The same group held an event in July to warn parents about “the dangers of a curriculum that intends to present transgender ideology as factual to children”.
This follow-up meeting will reportedly allow participants to “delve deeper into the matter, connect with fellow concerned parents, and strategise our next steps”.
?@NationalStad is renting venue to group that’s calling on schools to ban #LGBTQ + teachings.
Christian Voice Ireland aka All Nations Church rent venue regularly. Venue with capacity for 2,000.
Pastor John shares #AntiVaccine #conspiracytheories on his Facebook pages. pic.twitter.com/qJNv6sAFgL
— Fiona Pettit O’Leary ?️⚧️ (@fionapettit71) September 22, 2023
The new Irish senior cycle syllabus is expected to include sex education classes that integrate LGBTQ+ identities, relationships and families into the programme.
Under the new curriculum, relationships and sexuality sections are inclusive of all genders, sexualities, ethnicities, religious beliefs, social classes and abilities. Pupils will also learn how to be a good ally to those experiencing discrimination or inequality.
The programme includes a more holistic understanding of gender, which is described as socially and culturally constructed roles, characteristics and behaviours that differ across contexts and over time.
While some resistance to the new programme was expected, Christian Voice Ireland is said to be spreading misinformation about the inclusive curriculum and using fear tactics to mobilise against it.
In a video posted on social media, Pastor John Aherne claims that parents are “completely oblivious to what actually is going to be in this class” and “the danger their children are in”.
He makes further claims that schools are dangerous and not inclusive toward people who hold to a Christian worldview. He talks about the “sexualisation of our education system” and fears his children will be “indoctrinated through our education system.”
Parents who are opposed to the new SPHE curriculum have the option to ‘opt out’, but in his video promoting the parents’ meeting, Pastor John said: “I don’t feel we should be having to deal with that situation and make our child stand out.”
According to the clip, the organisers printed 100,000 flyers encouraging parents to attend a meeting about the pastor’s concerns. The event is scheduled for Tuesday, September 26 at 7:30pm at The National Stadium, with speakers including Senator Sharon Keoghan and Gript Media’s Ben Scallan.
GCN reached out to The National Stadium for comment, and the Irish Athletic Boxing Association shared this statement:
“The IABA is committed to promoting equality and treating people fairly and with respect by providing equal access and opportunities for all.
The IABA regularly hires out facilities to third party operators. The opinions expressed are solely related to a third-party operator and do not reflect the views or opinions of the IABA.
We will investigate the matter.”
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