3 mins


What does the global pushback against LGBTQ+ inclusive education actually mean for LGBTQ+ young people? 

If you’ve been watching Irish media closely, it might seem as though the subject of LGBTQ+ inclusive education - in particular trans-inclusive education - has suddenly started to command headlines in a way it didn’t before. Focus has been drawn to the updated RSE curriculum for secondary school students, the topic of trans identities in primary and secondary school, and one high-profile case of a teacher who disagreed with the use of “they/them” pronouns.

That last case has reached as far as local Paddy’s Day parades and your uncle’s WhatsApp memes. What’s been glossed over is that there’s a student whose life, identity, and education have become the topic of national debate and court battles.

Eventually that scandal will die down, and hopefully that student will be able to carry on and thrive in their school. But the media debates on LGBTQ+ inclusive education will continue well into September’s school term.

We’ve seen pushback on the idea of teaching students about what it means to be trans, and how they can be more accepting of trans and non-binary people. There have been waves of negativity in response to a draft secondary school RSE curriculum which looked at gender identity as one aspect of personhood. We saw more aggressive responses still when it was merely suggested that children might learn about trans people in primary school. There has been a certain skewing here on the media’s part. The loudest voices don’t always represent the reasonable majority; we learned that in the 2015 and 2018 referendums.

Unfortunately, what those loud voices are doing when it comes to the topic of LGBTQ+ education is drowning out the most important people in this discussion: young LGBTQ+ people themselves. Those young people have asked, time and time again, to learn about the realities of the world they live in. In particular they’ve begged for an RSE curriculum which prepares them for adulthood and relationships, regardless of how they identify.

The young people we meet in schools through ShoutOut’s educational programmes are eager to understand what it means to be LGBTQ+. They especially want to know what it means to be trans, non-binary, or intersex - those very identities which have become so controversial in the papers. Many of those students are straight and cisgender but genuinely curious, and keen to tease out these complex topics sensitively with our volunteers.

For a student questioning their gender or sexual orientation, the opportunity to learn about what it means to be LGBTQ+ could be transformative. A positive, informed conversation about LGBTQ+ identities in the classroom reassures a young person that they’re not alone. It lets them know that the adults in their lives have the tools to help them on this journey.

Be radical for a moment - imagine those students were given the chance to go deeper still? To study queer literature, learn about Irish LGBTQ+ history, be given the vocabulary to claim themselves as Gaeilge?

As queer folks, we don’t all look back on our school days with fondness. It was a difficult time for many of us. We can change that script for the next generation of LGBTQ+ young people, together. In 2023, we must stand together to protect LGBTQ+ inclusive education in Ireland. We can do this by challenging the narrative; by sharing our stories and reminding our communities that LGBTQ+ young people in our schools exist - and that, like we once did, they deserve to be supported, represented, and given the opportunity to thrive.

Ruadhán Ó Críodáin is the Executive Director of ShoutOut, an LGBTQ+ charity working to promote LGBTQ+ inclusion through education in schools and other settings.

Visit to learn more about how you can volunteer delivering LGBTQ+ inclusive education in classrooms or otherwise support their mission. Their next volunteer training is April 18 in Outhouse at 6PM.

This article appears in 377

Go to Page View
This article appears in...
Go to Page View
Welcome, dear reader, to the April/May edition of GCN, arriving at a period of flux for the LGBTQ+ community.
In Memory of Terri Blanche
GCN was saddened to learn of the passing of Terri Blanche on Friday, March 24, following a short illness.
Joining the board of the NXF has, for me, nicely completed a circle. Coming out in the late ‘90s, I moved to Dublin to work for GCN, a great experience where I found my community.
Homeworks is a new collaborative project between the National LGBT Federation (NXF) and Common Knowledge aimed at bringing climate action solutions into the homes of communities in Ireland, led by LGBTQ+ people.
Inside SLM
Ireland’s first Sexual Liberation Movement started as an undercover meeting between ten Trinity College students in the final months of 1973. Ethan Moser interviews the people behind the SLM.
Muito brasileiros sonham em emigrar, porém, essa é uma jornada repleta de altos e baixos. Letícia Barbosa expõe suas reflexões em relação ao ato de sair do Brasil e a importância da comunidade brasileira na Irlanda.
The LGBT Ireland National Helpline launched in November 2010, bringing together volunteers from around the country to create a streamlined service for Ireland’s queer community by Ireland’s queer community. Brian Dillon gets an update on why the service is just as important as ever.
Wild Flowers
Unshrinking Violets: 50 Years of Lesbian Activism is a series of events celebrating the remarkable achievements of lesbian, bisexual, femaleidentifying and non-binary people working towards improving LGBTQ+ rights across Ireland since the formation of the Sexual Liberation Movement (SLM) up to today.
Theatre has been associated with queerness for centuries, from traditions of onstage gender play to the many legions of queer theatre creatives and fans. They don’t call us “drama queens” for nothing.
“Ever since I can remember, I have been into arts and dancing. Dancing connects to my inner self.” So explained Sushant Suresh Singh to Pradeep Mahadeshwar.
Şpȇåķiñĝ mỳ Łaňgüàgē
Coded language, the hanky code, ways of dressing, the words we use - for centuries queer people have found subtle ways of sharing their identities with others without catching the attention of an unaccepting society.
This past March, Ireland’s national LGBTQ+ youth organisation Belong To launched the ‘It’s Our Social Media’ campaign. The initiative sought to underscore the online abuse experienced by queer youth and the onus of social media platforms to abate hateful content.
If you have a punk, goth or alternative friend, it's almost guaranteed they have heard of Dublin’s only queer punk rock and roll nightclub, Dance to the Underground.
Amidst the hideous human rights abuses carried out against the Ukrainian people, the LGBTQ+ community are additionally being subjected to further horrors by the invaders.
A Matter of Accountability
Irish reporting on trans issues has failed us. The media has a responsibility to be accurate and fair in their reporting, especially when it comes to sensitive issues.
Off the Main Drag
Despite its ubiquitous presence for hundreds of years, as Joe Drennan explains, many views on who can take part in the art of drag aren’t terribly modern.
The Jig is Up
Every Tuesday evening, this LGBTQ+ Irish dance class fills with people wearing trainers and comfortable gender-affirming dance attire.
Listings, organisations, supports
The feeling is Virtual
For LGTBQ+ people, finding support, friendship, understanding or solidarity can be difficult when our local communities may not match our identities or beliefs. It is no surprise to find that virtual connections have fulfilled those needs for many.
What does the global pushback against LGBTQ+ inclusive education actually mean for LGBTQ+ young people? 
Looking for back issues?
Browse the Archive >

Previous Article
Page 46