Pupils in Dublin primary school told to refer to their gender-neutral teacher as ‘they’ in the classroom

The children from the Dublin Educate Together school – aged 8 and 9 – were told this on their first day back, according to parents

September 8, 2023 – Barbara McCarthy —  Dublin, Ireland – Irish Mirror

Kids in a primary school have been told to refer to their gender-neutral teacher as “they” in the classroom. The Third Class pupils returned to school last week to be informed their new teacher wants to be referred to by first name only, or the pronoun “they”.

The children from the Dublin Educate Together school – aged 8 and 9 – were told this on their first day back, according to parents. They have since been corrected by the teacher for saying “she” and taught to say “they” instead.

It is believed to be the first time a school in Ireland has moved to accommodate a teacher’s gender identity within the classroom.

It is unclear if the teacher in question is non-binary or gender fluid, but has asked pupils to not refer to them by gender. Parents were not consulted ahead of the change, in the new school year, and some were surprised.

One guardian said: “The schoolkids shouldn’t be corrected for using ‘she’ or ‘he.’ These children are eight years old and it is confusing for them.

“It’s one thing for students at university being asked to use a pronoun, but this is too young. They’ll be worried if they get a pronoun right or wrong, when they should be focused on maths or spelling.”

Psychologist and campaigner Stella O’Malley believes the teacher is putting their needs ahead of the welfare of children. O’Malley – founder of gender-critical group Genspect – said it is the first such case in a school in either Ireland or the UK.

She said: ”Insisting on children using ‘they/them’ pronouns is in breach of the HSE’s Children First guidelines which recommend that adults’ needs should not over be placed before children’s needs.”

“The concept of being non-binary is complex. Some children will be fine with it, some uncomfortable, some will not accept this rule and some will believe they are being asked to lie.

“Other children will have religious beliefs that prevent them from viewing this teacher as they/them (or non-binary). Children with additional needs could be confused and distressed and might worry about ‘getting it wrong.”

“Teachers in schools are ‘in loco parentis’ – so any decisions made in a school should always ask the question ‘who is being served by this decision?’

However People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy said it is “positive” the school is supporting the teacher. Murphy – who told this year how he is raising his new baby Juniper as gender-neutral – said: “It’s basic decency, respect and politeness to refer to people as they want to be referred to.

“I think it is positive a school is supporting the teacher in ensuring they are referred to as they identify. Children, left to themselves, would not be confused or think it strange.

“They would take it in their stride. Children are very able to adapt and learn new things all the time. It prepares them for a world where they will meet people who don’t fit into a gender binary.”

Pupils call teachers by their first names in Educate Together schools, instead of the titles Miss or Mister. However, a teacher requesting children use non-gendered pronouns towards them is a new development in Irish primary education.

The school and its principal did not return calls or emails from the Irish Mirror for comment on the matter. But it is known that enquiring parents were since informed how the school is inclusive and welcoming and was delighted to have the teacher, who is new and experienced.

There have been no official complaints from parents about the move. The Department of Education said it is fully committed to “creating safe, supportive and inclusive environments in schools and colleges”

It stated the Wellbeing Policy Framework provides an overarching framework for schools to support the wellbeing of all members of the school community.

A spokesperson for INTO – the primary school teachers’ union – said: “Local schools, school leaders and their boards of management are best placed to manage school-based issues, including diversity and inclusion, as and when they arise.”

The overall Educate Together organisation said: “Our office has not been contacted by anyone from the school community on the matter.

“Where issues arise at school level, we encourage parents and guardians to seek resolution by contacting the relevant school authorities.”

Independent TD Michael McNamara said the Constitution states a child would not receive instruction or indoctrination in any religious belief contrary to the wishes of parents.

Said McNamara: “The changed classroom scenario could pose problems if the parents don’t agree with their children having to refer to the teacher as “they”.

The case is the latest to bring the controversial issue of gender identity into the classroom. Enoch Burke – a teacher at Wilson’s Hospital school in Co Westmeath – was suspended last year following his refusal of a request to recognise a transgender student by their preferred pronouns.

Devout Christian Burke was jailed for 108 days in Mountjoy Jail last year for defying a court order not to turn up at the school from which he was suspended. The High Court ruled he would be fined €700 a day for continuing to defy the order.

source : https://www.irishmirror.ie/news/irish-news/pupils-dublin-primary-school-told-30891198  

Comments from Enoch Burke :

TWITTER https://twitter.com/realjosiahburke

On the last day of school, Enoch Burke spoke to journalists at the school gate (Virgin Media & Independent).

If what the public read in newspapers is not an accurate reflection of what is said, this represents a serious failure of duty by the media.

See his full interview with Virgin Media & Times https://www.facebook.com/JosiahEBurke/videos/1222962971652814

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