Government research highlights the need for LGBTQ+ inclusive school curricula

The report, which was launched in collaboration with NUI Galway, also found that there is a lack of research on the lives of trans and intersex people.

A smiling man in glasses and a suit

Research conducted jointly by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY) and NUI Galway recommends that “LGBTQ+ inclusivity needs to be improved in school curricula.”

The ‘LGBTI+ Youth in Ireland and across Europe: A two-phased Landscape and Research Gap Analysis’ was launched by Minister Roderic O’Gorman on Monday and it reviewed all relevant research on LGBTQ+ youth in Ireland and Europe since 2000. It also said that there is a research gap on trans and intersex people and how to best support their lives.

“We don’t know enough about the lives of transgender and intersex young people, about the views of parents and families of LGBTI+ young people and how to support them better, or about developing inclusive work environments for LGBTI+ young people,” O’Gorman said. “These are all issues of the highest importance and we must find a way to address these research gaps.”

The poor standard of education about LGBTQ+ people in Irish schools has been well documented. Last month there was controversy over the introduction of a new Relationships and Sexuality Education programme for Catholic Schools called Flourish. The guidance says that “Sex is a gift from God… Puberty is a gift from God. We are perfectly designed by God to procreate with him.” In relation to LGBTQ+ people it says that “the Church’s teaching in relation to marriage between a man and a woman cannot be omitted.”

This research review says that there is already a lot of evidence for creating supportive and inclusive environments for LGBTI+ young people in formal education settings.

Objective 15 of the government’s LGBTI+ National Youth Strategy 2018-2020 only aimed to “include LGBTI+ matters in the review of Relationships and Sexuality Education.” A review of the curriculum by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment has since taken place and made clear the need for the inclusion of LGBTQ+ matters. There has been no changes since its publication in 2019 with the NCCA saying that they are currently working on updating the Relationship and Sexuality Education curriculum in Irish schools.

Some of the main recommendations of the report were: 

  • Schools and other educational, social and healthcare services, as well as businesses and employers in the private sector, should create or review anti-bullying policies and practices based on national guidelines for LGBTI+-inclusive environments.
  • Families of trans children need evidence-based information and specific support on issues related to gender identity and interventions which help gender transitioning.
  • LGBTQ+ inclusivity needs to be improved in school curricula as well as in sports and culture. This would ensure better representation and ‘normalisation’ of LGBTI+ issues and identities.

Commenting on the findings, Lead Author Dr András Költő said: “Initiatives to improve the lives of LGBTI+ young people must be based on high quality scientific evidence, and our report clearly indicates where more research is needed. Future research needs to consider the positive aspects of LGBTI+ young people’s lives, involve their families, teachers and youth workers, and monitor initiatives to help ensure positive outcomes.”

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