A teenage pupil in St Patrick’s Grammar in Armagh refused a teacher’s request to put up an LGBT youth forum poster in class, later complaining to his parents about the incident. The poster gave information on ‘Northern Ireland’s First LGBTQ+ Youth Forum’, an event organised by voluntary support group, Cara-Friend.
The parents, who have decided to remain anonymous, instructed their solicitor, Aiden Carlin, to contact the school ‘Seeking an undertaking that this will not be repeated’.
Regarding students being provided with information on the event, the father of the pupil continued, ‘On several levels I object to this, we are sending our children to get a Catholic education in a renowned Catholic school. It’s promoting a lifestyle that we vehemently disagree with.’
Declan Meehan, the deputy director of Cara-Friend, who have organised the event, called the escalation of events ‘highly regrettable’, believing it highlighted the necessity for the LGBT youth forum all the more.
He continued, ‘The reality is that there are LGBTQ+ students in this school. This poster could potentially have given support and information to someone who really needs it and, in the balancing of rights, that would outweigh any objections this one family could have as it does not detract from any rights or protections afforded them.’
Although Mr Meehan praised the school for promoting LGBTQ+ inclusion and visibility, spokespeople for St Patrick’s Grammar have yet to offer a response on the incident.
The forum, which will take place in Belfast this Saturday, will be opened by Koulla Yiasouma, Northern Ireland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People. With an aim to empower, inspire and give voice to LGBT youth, there will be a series of talks from motivational speakers and positive role models.
Organisers say young people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, non-binary, queer or questioning, and aged between 12 and 25 are all welcome.
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