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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar Sasko Lazarov

'Trans people exist': Taoiseach backs the teaching of gender identity in schools

The Taoiseach said that the education system needed to prepare children for the world.

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has said that it “makes sense” to teach kids about transgender people, saying that children should be informed about the world.

Speaking in Waterford this afternoon, the Taoiseach gave his backing to offering education to primary level children about transgender people, saying that the purpose of education was to both prepare children for life and to teach them about the world.

“I think the purpose of the education system is to prepare children for life, to teach them about the world,” Varadkar said.

“Trans people exist, they’ve always existed, and I think it makes more sense in schools to just inform children about the world around them.

“It doesn’t have to be a value judgement about whether it’s right or wrong but it just makes sense to me that education is about teaching children about the real world and trans people exist in the real world.

“Why not just give them information and facts. It doesn’t have to be a value judgement in either direction to challenge anyone’s personal or religious opinions.”

He added that parents would still continue to have consent as to what children are taught in school, adding that “ultimately parents are responsible for their children and know what’s best for their kids”.

His comments follow a report in the Irish Independent this morning, which detailed that the Catholic Primary School Management Association (CPSMA) had objected to remarks made by Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman over the teaching of gender diversity at primary level.

In particular, the CPSMA said that teaching primary children “what it means to be transgender would require to teach something about which there is neither a scientific nor social consensus to highly impressionable young children”.

However, LGBTQ+ support organisation Belong To, has said it was “deeply disappointed” by comments made by the CPSMA.

“Trans young people are in primary schools in Ireland. Ignoring their existence and silencing conversations around identity will have detrimental effects on the lives of these pupils,” the group said in a statement this afternoon.

Currently, a revised Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) curriculum is being drawn up by the Government, with it expected to be rolled out in this September when the new school year begins.

The SPHE curriculum has not been significantly updated in decades, with the Government seeking to modernise the subject. The new curriculum is expected to also teach students how to recognise the signs of domestic and gender-based violence.