INTO Call For Specific Teacher Training On LGBT+ Issues

The LGBT+ branch of Ireland's largest teachers' trade union has called for improvements in teacher training.

Young students raise their hands to ask their teacher a question in the classroom.

The Irish National Teachers Organisation, INTO, have called for improved and specific training of primary teachers with regards to LGBT+ issues in education.

Seán Hegarty from INTO LGBT Teachers’ Group spoke to GCN about the need to update training given to Irish teachers with regards to LGBT+ subject matter, as well as homophobic and transphobic bullying:

“We believe that specific training in SPHE and LGBT+ issues must be given to all primary school teachers. The INTO LGBT Teachers’ Group has asked that school inspectors look for LGBT+ issues in whole school SPHE plans, as well as in individual teacher plans to ensure it gets covered.”

Hegarty pointed out that while Irish law does not prohibit teachers from approaching LGBT+ subject matter in the classroom, many feel inhibited by the ethos of their schools.

“Although teachers are legally allowed to teach children about LGBT+ issues as part of the current SPHE curriculum and to comply with national school anti-bullying guidelines, many teachers do not feel comfortable or informed enough to teach the topic. Some teachers are afraid to teach children about LGBT+ issues because of their schools’ ethos.”

INTO have made submissions to the Department of Education as well as the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment as part of ongoing curriculum reviews with the aim of ensuring that LGBT+ issues are covered in the SPHE curriculum.

INTO has made a number of educational resources that are inclusive of LGBT+ material available on their website. The group created their ‘Different Families, Same Love’ poster in response to requests from teachers following the publication of the Anti-Bullying Guidelines for Primary and Post-Primary Schools by the Department of Education and Skills in 2013. The aim of the poster is to support teachers in effectively implementing anti-bullying procedures with strategies to address homophobic and transphobic bullying.

Earlier this month, a study found that 70% of Scottish teaching staff had received no training on LGBT+ issues in the last five years. Responding to the survey, one teacher said:

“There is a real lack of awareness that results in teachers not being able to challenge and deal with LGBTI discrimination, pupils often report it goes unchallenged.”

Last December, a draft from the Oireachtas’ Education Committee proposed an updated version of Ireland’s sexual education curriculum which would include reference to LGBT+ identities and sexual health, as well as classes on consent, and a plan to target homophobic and transphobic bullying in primary and secondary schools.

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