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Students to protest over school’s cancellation of homophobic bullying workshop

Transition year students at Coláiste Eoin in Dublin are planning to wear rainbow flags on their school crests.

Updated 8.40pm

TRANSITION YEAR STUDENTS at Coláiste Eoin in Stillorgan, Dublin, are planning a protest this week over the school’s decision to cancel a workshop on homophobic bullying.

The school cancelled the workshop, due to be hosted by voluntary organisation ShoutOut, just half an hour before it was due to go ahead, reportedly saying that “both sides should be represented”.

The workshop, which has been given in schools all across the country, focuses on encouraging students not to discriminate against LGBT people. However when the group of volunteers arrived at the boys’ school today, they were told that the event had been cancelled.

Declan Meehan, the schools co-ordinator for ShoutOut, said that the group was originally not given any explanation, before an unidentified person told them that the Board of Management had decided that “both sides of the argument should be represented”.

“My colleagues were baffled by this and questioned what he meant, but it wasn’t forthcoming”.

Meehan said that workshop had been booked several months ago and the cancellation was “out of the blue”.

“We’ve been out at Colaiste Eoin before back in 2012 and 2013,” he told TheJournal.ie. ”It was actually the first school we ever did a workshop in and they’ve always been very hospitable to us.” It is the first time that the group has ever had a school cancel.

Protest

This evening, students at the school began organising a protest to make it known that this decision does not represent their views. The discussion started on a Facebook group page for Coláiste Eoin and Coláiste Íosagáin, the girls’ secondary school on the same grounds:

One student at Coláiste Íosagáin told TheJournal.ie that she and her classmates will be supporting the protest by the transition year boys at Coláiste Eoin which is expected to take place during their first break.

“We saw that the talk was cancelled and nobody’s happy about it,” she said. “We want to show that it’s not the students’ choice.”

All the boys are going to wear rainbow flags on their school crest.

No comment

A person who answered the phone at the school earlier today said that the principal “doesn’t want to comment” on what happened.

She said that the incident will be “going to the Board of Management” but did not elaborate on what exactly this meant.

Declan Meehan said that he has repeatedly tried to contact the school but that he has not been given any explanation, beyond the fact that the school has not changed its position.

ShoutOut was due to speak to Transition Year students at the school about transphobic and homophobic bullying. The group is apolitical and does not speak about issues such as the upcoming referendum on same-sex marriage.

The Department of Education has issued guidelines asking teachers to provide information on homophobic bullying, but many schools instead choose to bring in groups such as ShoutOut to talk to students instead.

“My concern now is that I don’t want to discourage any schools from getting involved. I just want to let people know that this can still happen – that parents and teachers can object to these things,” Meehan said.

- Additional reporting by Michelle Hennessy.

Originally published 4.07pm

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