Coláiste Eoin: some parents objected to bullying workshop

Head of school says some parents had not wanted their sons at ShoutOut forum

Finín Máirtín, head of Coláiste Eoin boys’ secondary school in Stillorgan (above), said some parents had not wanted their sons to attend the homophobia workshop due to be delivered by the ShoutOut organisation on Tuesday morning.   Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Finín Máirtín, head of Coláiste Eoin boys’ secondary school in Stillorgan (above), said some parents had not wanted their sons to attend the homophobia workshop due to be delivered by the ShoutOut organisation on Tuesday morning. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

A “number of parents” of students at the Dublin secondary school which this week halted a workshop to combat homophobic bullying had objected because the workshop was being delivered by “an LGBT organisation”, the school’s principal has said.

Finín Máirtín, head of Coláiste Eoin boys’ secondary school in Stillorgan, said those parents had not wanted their sons to attend the workshop due to be delivered by the ShoutOut organisation on Tuesday morning.

Nor had they wanted their sons “singled out” or “isolated” by not attending the workshop.

He disputed the account of events as outlined by ShoutOut, a voluntary organisation which delivers the workshops nationally, saying he was “personally very disappointed at the way this has been portrayed by the organiser”.

ShoutOut’s national school organiser is Declan Meehan.

Mr Meehan said ShoutOut had always had a good relationship with the school, that ShoutOut wished this to continue, but “it is very difficult when the school will not comunicate with us”. He said the school had always been “very supportive of LGBT issues” and that he had not gone to the media about the apparent cancellation of the workshops.

School statement

“The media came to us,” he said. “If you look at my comments I have said nothing negative about Coláiste Eoin, though I would say this has been very badly handled by the school.”

Workers from ShoutOut had been due to deliver the workshop to 80 transition year students on Tuesday, but when they arrived they were informed by Mr Máirtín it could not go ahead.

Mr Meehan has said he was told by his staff the workshops had been “cancelled . . . because the board of management had decided that both sides of the argument should be given”.

The school issued a statement on Wednesday morning denying the workshops had been cancelled and saying: “It is proposed to invite ShoutOut to make their presentation at a future date in the course of the current academic year.”

While Mr Meehan said they had been booked before Christmas to deliver the workshops, Mr Máirtín says there were discussion before Christmas, but that the booking was made on January 7th.

Letters to parents about the workshops were sent home with students on Monday. It became apparent on Tuesday, said Mr Máirtín, that only about two-thirds of these had reached parents, and there was communication from a number of parents who “didn’t want their sons to be addressed by an LGBT organisation. It was also felt there would be an issue of exclusion and isolation if they were taken out of the workshops.

“So the decision was taken to stand back, take some time and to hold the workshop at a later stage. There was never any question that the workshops were being cancelled altogether.”

He said he had not yet been in touch with ShoutOut about rescheduling the workshops as it had been “a busy few days”.

Asked whether relations with ShoutOut had been damaged by the controversy, he said: “Yes, I personally am very disappointed with the way this has been portrayed by the organiser of ShoutOut. It’s disappointing the way it has been blown up, the way it took to social media.

“The reality on the ground in the school is so alien to the way the school has been portrayed. This is a caring, inclusive school.”