Thursday, 2 May 2013

Questions (85)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

85. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Education and Skills if any secondary school here, funded by the Exchequer can refuse the placing of an information poster to support LGBT students from an organisation also funded by the Exchequer, in the notice board space of that school; and if he will advise of his Department's policy on the matter. [20908/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I assume the Deputy is referring to an information poster produced as part of the educational pack for the Stand Up! Awareness Week Against Homophobic & Transphobic Bullying which is organised by BeLonG To Youth Services. The Stand Up! Awareness Week is aimed at creating positive understanding of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people and their issues. Participation in the Stand Up! Awareness Week provides principals and teachers with the opportunity to engage young people in fun and educational activities which aim to increase awareness, build supportive links among young people and reduce the incidence of bullying and name-calling.

Stand Up! educational packs are supplied to all second level schools free of charge and schools are actively encouraged to participate on a voluntary basis. As the Deputy has indicated in his question, the Stand Up! Awareness Week is being provided with financial support by my Department. Support for Stand Up! is one of twelve key actions in the Action Plan on Bullying, which I launched earlier this year. Stand Up! is also being supported by education stakeholders including: Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI); Institute of Guidance Counsellors; Irish Second Level Students Union (ISSU); Irish Vocational Education Association (IVEA); Joint Managerial Body for secondary schools (JMB; National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD); and Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI). It would be very disappointing if a school refused to allow a Stand Up! Poster to be displayed on the school's notice board. I would suggest that, if this is the case, that the issue is raised with the school's board of management in the first instance.

My Department is currently working with the education partners to finalise new anti-bullying procedures for schools which will be issued for the start of the next school year. These new procedures will include a specific reference to preventing and tackling homophobic and transphobic bullying and there will be new requirements placed on schools to ensure that anti-bullying policies are implemented.