A charity representing LGBT young people has said it is “very disappointed” at calls for children not to be taught about transgender issues.
On Breakfast Briefing this morning, BeLonG To, noted that children as young as six and seven years old can know that they are LGBT.
The charity’s CEO Moninne Griffith said educating children about trans issues could help trans children “feel safe and included in their school”.
It comes after the Catholic Primary Schools Management Association wrote to the Government, advising that children should not be taught what it means to be transgender.
Ms Griffith said she is “very disappointed” at the move.
“What I am concerned about is the safety of children,” she said.
“We know from research that 12 is the most common age for a young person to know they are LGBT, but I know from talking to teachers and parents all over the country that there are young people as young as six and seven who know they are LGBT – mostly maybe trans,” she said.
“It is a small number but what is the harm in making sure that they feel safe and included in their school?”
She said BeLonG To is working with “brilliant teachers all over the country already who are trying to make sure that students feel included”.
“I think that is really important,” she said.
“I am very disappointed to hear about [the letter] but just to say that we are working with post-primary catholic schools are over the country who are doing amazing work to ensure that all their students including LGBT students feel safe and supported in school,” she said.
The CPSMA sent the letter after the Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman said children should have an “understanding” of diversity and should be educated about what it means to be transgender.
He said that education should happen in both primary and secondary school.
The CPSMA, which represents, almost 90% of primary schools, said trans education could add to "a growing psychological contagion" among children.
it also warned that children should not be prematurely introduced to "complex" topics around which it said there is no "medical consensus".
Speaking this morning, the interim Justice Minister Simon Harris said decisions on transgender education should be based on science and fact – not religious patronage.
“I believe in providing people in our country with facts and with science”.
— NewstalkFM (@NewstalkFM) March 6, 2023
Hate and harassment
Ms Griffith was speaking after a new BeLonG To survey found that 87% of young LGBTQ+ people in Ireland have seen or experienced hate and harassment on social media in last year alone.
The survey also found that only 21% of young people who reported abuse or harmful content saw any action taken by social media platforms
Just 12% of the content was removed in those cases and only 4& saw the offending user being temporarily suspended.
Ms Griffith said social media platforms must act to reduce hate and harassment online.
“What we are calling on platforms to do is to really take this seriously,” she said.
“We know the harm this has on young people in terms of their mental health and wellbeing. Also some of this anti-LGBT vitriol or attitudes or behaviours, spills over into real life, offline as well.
“So it is really important that online platforms are held to account and that they do something about this online content.”
She agreed that anti-trans commentary online is particularly common.
“For such a tiny population of the country, you wonder why people are so upset with just such a small population just being allowed be themselves, you know?” she said.
“What we are hearing from LGBT young people is that social media companies are not even implementing their own community guidelines and standards in relation to hate speech and cyberbullying
“So, we are calling on them to make sure that social media becomes a place that is safe and inclusive for all users.”
Ms Griffith said BeLonG To is reminding users that social media is powered by the people and can be changed and shaped for the better by those that use it.
She said the organisation is calling on users to “feed the good and block the bad and share more positive content and block and report toxic and hateful content”.