Saturday, November 12, 2005

What's in a word?

Richard Delevan has an excellent analysis on Bertie Ahern's response (Irish Independent - registration required) to Liz O'Donnell's comments. Delevan concentrates on what should make one feel 'disappointment' and he wrote the piece before Bertie's press office clarified that the word 'betrayal' was in the notes and not spoken by Bertie. (not that it makes it any different anyway - Bertie's defence of the church does not judge the mood of the nation well at all.)
Delevan also looks at the disentanglement of Church and State and some other issues from the Ferns report which have not received the coverage they should have in recent weeks.

The 'we didn't know at the time' brigade have been out in force despite the fact that the Ferns report highlighted insurance policies that were taken out by Diocese's to protect them against claims of abuse. The debate about who runs schools in Ireland and who owns them will no doubt include many who say the lay people now run schools. The future of who runs Irish education is as much about the souls of the children as it is about the ownership of the buildings and the land they are built on.
I know that not much happens in Irish Catholic Schools without the imprimatur of the Bishop or the local Parish Priest. In the last 10 years my presence in some catholic and multi-denominational schools has led to
  • crisis meetings of Boards of Governors,
  • threats by staff to resign if I was not allowed in
  • and the presence of staff and parents during the sessions I ran to protect the morals of the children.

All these incidents involved either the chair of the Board of Management (a priest), or other church appointed board member, or the local parish priest expressing concern that I and a colleague were invited to speak about being lesbian or gay in Ireland.

The Relationships and Sexual Education curriculum first launched in the mid 1990's is still not being fully implemented in Irish Schools, sexual orientation is still not discussed with all Junior Certificate or Leaving Certificate pupils. Nor is it a compulsory/enforceable part of Social and Personal Health Education. Curricula depend on the ethos of the school and the personal inclination of the teachers and the supports provided to them.

Myself and a colleague going into 4 schools a year is not going to make much difference in the long run but the teachers who invited us back in 1994 and continue to invite us to this day are breaking the mould.


At 21:51, Blogger EWI said...

Suzy, I agree entirely. One question, though; what is it that you were in the schools for? I presume for some LGBT awareness class, but could you elaborate a little?

At 21:57, Blogger Suzy said...

As part of the Religion curriculum either as the human rights strand or relationships and marriage, myself and a male colleague do 1 or 2 hour workshops on being lesbian and gay in Ireland. They are held for final year - Leaving Certificate Students. We address stereotypes, culture, and equality issues. It's structured but open to direction by the students in terms of their questions. Issues covered include coming out, homophobia, gay bashing, clarification of labels and terms, nature versus nurture, marriage and parenting.

At 00:45, Blogger EWI said...

Never had that back in my day - '94. Of course, there "weren't any homosexuals" then either, at least not in small rural towns...


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