Teachers vote to protect peers from discrimination in schools

Teachers vote to protect peers from discrimination in schools

New president of the INTO Joe McKeown and vice-president John Driscoll. Mr McKeown proposed a motion to protect teachers from discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation at the INTO annual conference.

Primary teachers have moved to condemn any homophobic, biphobic and transphobic attitudes that may be expressed, including implicitly, in schools.

Delegates attending the second day of the annual Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) passed a motion aiming to protect teachers from discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.

Primary teachers also supported further efforts to raise awareness of LGBT+ terminology and identities, to support inclusion of LGBT+ staff, parents and pupils and to ensure all INTO documents use gender-inclusive language.

“We are saying loudly and proudly, ‘LGBT+ teachers are welcome here’, said Joe McKeown, the newly elected INTO president, who proposed the motion. A native of  Haulbowline, Co Cork, he is a principal teacher in St Patrick's De La Salle BNS, Kilkenny.

“Much has been achieved in recent years, but a lot more remains to be done,” Mr McKeown added. 

“When the patron of a school feels that the actions of LGBT+ teachers are intrinsically disordered, it is difficult for LGBT+ teachers to feel protected or valued.” 

Only 18% of LGBT+ in the Republic and 12% in the North have declared their orientation in the school community.” 

"This means that there are approximately 4,000 teachers on this island who do not feel comfortable revealing their true identities in schools," he added.

The INTO previously helped with the Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015, which makes it illegal for denominational schools to discriminate against LGBT teachers over their sexuality.

Deis schools

Primary teachers are also calling on their union to convene a series of regional meetings of Deis schools to develop a cohesive and comprehensive campaign to protect the most disadvantaged schools. 

They are seeking a  maximum class size of 18 students to one teacher for senior classes, and 15 students to one teacher for junior classes, in the most disadvantaged schools.

For all other schools in the Deis scheme, the student-teacher ratio should be set at 20:1, and there should be a rollout of school-based therapy services. 

They have also called on the Department of Education to ensure that schools are given the time frame for the next rollout of the Deis programme.

Meanwhile, teachers are also calling for more timely communications from Education Minister Norma Foley and the Department of Education. Delegates passed a motion demanding that all communications, circulars, and letters from the department be issued prior to 3pm on Thursday of a working week, and at least five working days prior to standardised school closures. 

The motion also calls for communications to be delivered at least five working days "prior to the date that any changes flowing from such communications are implemented”.

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