Irish education conference faces backlash for talk on "managing gender issues" in schools

Members of the Irish LGBTQ+ community are outraged that ETB Ireland invited Stella O'Malley to address an audience of school principals and education professionals about gender.

Empty classroom with single desks, blank blackboard, projector screen and a map on the wall. This story details Stella O'Malley giving a talking
Image: Via Pixabay

The Principals and Deputy Principals Conference 2022 has faced criticism from the LGBTQ+ community and its allies for inviting Stella O’Malley to give a talk on “managing gender issues”.

Ms O’Malley is one of three writers behind the widely-criticised Irish Times article entitled Bill to Ban Conversion Therapy Poses Problems for Therapists, which inspired the Trans Writers Union to boycott the publication.

Chaired by Director of Schools Aidan Flynn, the conference took place at Clayton Whites Hotel in Wexford town over May 4 and 5, with O’Malley leading day one, entitled “Managing Gender Issues in School”.

Although Mr Flynn Tweeted out that there was an “amazing atmosphere in Wexford” at the conference, members of the queer Irish community and allies alike are concerned that the invitation was extended and Ms O’Malley, who also offers parent coaching, was given a platform.

“I have no words to explain how awful this is,” Siobhan Danette Thomas, a PhD researcher of Applied Psychology, wrote on Twitter. “[ETB Ireland] have platformed someone who is hostile to trans youth at a conference for principals.  School is hard enough for trans youth, now misinformation will be spread to school on how to ‘manage’ gender. Harm will come from this.”

Dr John Gilmore, assistant professor in nursing, health and sex(quality) at UCD, also took to Twitter to express his concerns. “Really troubling to see [ETB Ireland] hosting someone with extreme and transphobic views to discuss gender issues for school leadership.” Dr Gilmore added that TDs Roderic O’Gorman and Norma Foley “should seriously look into this”.

“How did this happen?” asks Izzy Kamikaze on the social media platform. “Who signed off on it? Where are the teachers’ unions on this?”

“Please do not take advice from Stella O’Malley on ‘managing gender issues’,” writes another Twitter user. “Children are [at] school to learn and be safe. Their gender identity is theirs and does not need to be managed. She is transphobic and not a safe choice.”


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