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'The sex ed that we have at the minute is clearly not working'

LGBTQ+ groups have called on Varadkar to commit to funding the Sex Education Bill before Pride.

Solidarity Paul Murphy TD in Buswells Hotel this morning
Solidarity Paul Murphy TD in Buswells Hotel this morning

LGBTQ+ GROUPS HAVE called on Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to commit to spending money on a radical overhaul of sex education in Ireland before Pride this Saturday.

The legislation to bring in the new sex education for Ireland’s primary and secondary schools – known as the Objective Sex Education Bill – is currently before the Oireachtas.

At a press conference today, representatives from various LGBTQ+ groups expressed their fears that Varadkar will not commit to spending the money, which was requested by the Ceann Comhairle in order for the legislation to progress to the committee stage.

By signing the so-called ‘money message’, Varadkar would commit the Government to spend the money necessary if the Bill ultimately becomes law.

The groups say some schools are still hostile towards LGBTQ+ students and the introduction of the new curriculum would provide for progressive sex education which is factual, takes into account LGBTQ+ students and has consent at its core.

The Objective Sex Education Bill passed the first stage earlier this year but requires a message from the Government after examination from Seán Ó Ferghail TD, Ceann Comhairle under a Dáil standing order.

Dáil standing order 179 (2) states:

Bills involving the appropriation or revenue of public money shall not be taken unless the purpose of that appropriation has been recommended to the Dáil by a message from the Government.

Solidarity TD Paul Murphy said he hopes that by Saturday when Varadkar attends the Pride Festival that he will be able to tell people that he is going to let the Bill proceed.

The Taoiseach just needs to sign a very simple message which says that if the Bill ultimately becomes law that the government commits to spending the money necessary.

The Sex Education Bill guarantees the rights of students to receive factual and objective information on relationships and sexuality regardless of the school’s ethos, and contains provisions for education on consent, different types of sexuality and gender, the termination of pregnancy and different contraception methods.

“The Bill sets out the broad parameters of what objective factual sex education would look like but also amends the education act to say that the religious ethos of schools cannot stand in the way of delivering necessary sex education,” Murphy said.

Speaking in the Dáil today, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that no other curriculum is decided by primary legislation.

Misinformation 

Davy Quinlivan, a member of ACT UP Dublin, said that it is critical that students in Irish schools receive accurate, affirming, and relevant education about sexual health as the current curriculum is not working.

“In Ireland, we are currently in the middle of a HIV crisis, diagnoses are over 500 a year.

The national HIV knowledge and attitude survey 2017 has some glaring statistics as 18% of 18-24-year-olds questioned perceived that they could get HIV from using the same toilet seat and 14% of them from using the same glass of water whose HIV positive.

“The sex ed that we have at the minute is clearly not working or we would not have these statistics showing that 50% of new chlamydia cases are in young people and 39% of cases of gonorrhea are young people,” Quinlivan said.

solidarity 191_90548010 Source: Sam Boal via rollingnews

ShoutOut runs workshops in schools around Ireland to tackle LGBT bullying and its managing director, Bella Fitzpatrick, insisted today that delays to this Bill show the lack of understanding of its importance.

“We did 349 workshops this school year in 102 schools and reached almost 10,000 students.

“We have a very good idea of what is facing young people, in particular young LGBT [people], because that is the context of the workshop.

“They think we are going to have the answers for them but unfortunately, we wouldn’t be allowed into schools if we said we’re going to talk about sex,” Fitzpatrick said.

According to Fitzpatrick despite the marriage equality referendum and gender recognition legislation, schools are still hostile towards LGBTQ+ students.

“Marriage equality and gender recognition do not impact young people the way you might think it does because those laws pertain to adults.

I would respectfully ask that this is put through with no further delays.

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Adam Daly

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