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Young people want better sex education, gender-neutral toilets and LGBTI history taught in schools

Young people who took part in the consultation want to see the normalisation of ‘non-traditional relationships’.

Image: Shutterstock/John Arehart

CALLS FOR BETTER sex-education, gender neutral toilets, and the inclusion of gender theory and LGBTI history in the school curriculum are all contained in a new report published today.

The Youth Consultation report, which will be used to inform the new LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, intersex) National Youth Strategy, contains the views of 4,000 young people across Ireland.

The programme for government committed to develop a National LGBT Youth Strategy to encourage better inclusion in society. The new report presents key findings from a survey combined with the messages emerging from seven consultation events held around the country.

The results show that more than half who took part in the survey said they wanted to see changes to education within Irish schools, and called for improved training for teaching professionals.

The lack of education was a dominant theme across all consultation events, with young people describing little or no inclusive gender, sex and LGBTI education.

Sex education 

It criticises how sex education focused primarily on ’traditional’ relationships and called for improved education for lesbian women and gay men.

It highlights that sex education was often delivered by staff without appropriate training.

This lack of comprehensive LGBTI inclusive sex education, combined with poor school policies, is described in the report as resulting in discriminatory behaviour from school staff and peers.

90436821_90436821 The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone with Una Mullally, independent chair for LGBT National Youth Strategy. Source: RollingNews.ie

A number of other key recommendations include the introduction of mandatory LGBTI inclusive education in primary and secondary schools, as well as adequate education that covers the teaching of genders, relationships, sexualities, and covers types of sex safe, consent and mental health.

Other suggestions include that sex and gender education should be delivered by trained teachers and external facilitators.

Young people who took part in the consultation also want to see the normalisation of ‘non-traditional relationships’.

Gender-neutral uniforms

The report also calls for changes in a number of other areas, including the introduction of school policies on gender-neutral uniforms, gender-neutral toilets and transgender policies.

It also seeks to have gender theory and LGBTI history included in the school curriculum.

Despite describing many positive aspects of being LGBTI in Ireland, survey respondents spoke about the challenges facing young people and discrimination.

Bullying and harassment is referenced by many and calls for the introduction and enforcement of anti-bullying policies to tackle bullying by staff and students.

The removal of discrimination in sport for transgender people and efforts to make sport more inclusive is also recommended.

The respondents also highlight how the majority of supports are Dublin-centric, with young people describing the difficulties they face in relation to coming out or living as an LGBTI young person in rural areas.

Equality in Ireland 

Launching the report today, Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone said that while she is confident that Ireland is on a continuing journey to full equality, she is also aware that there are still members of the community who feel isolated, alone and unable to come out to family or friends.

“The findings today offer a wide range of positive steps which can be taken to ensure our communities will become places where all young people can grow up confident that they will be accepted, supported and loved.

“Through this consultation our young people have spoken. Their calls impact on almost every area of government,” she said.

Zappone committed to delivering on recommendations in the report.

“In 2018, I look forward to launching our Youth Strategy. It will be an important moment. Ireland’s journey to full equality is continuing – there can be no going back,” she said.

Read: DUP’s Sammy Wilson in scathing attack on ‘cynical, aggressive and green’ Varadkar and Coveney>

Read: ‘Orange alert’ warning: Significant falls of snow due in 17 counties this weekend>

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