School denies cancelling anti-homophobia workshops

Coláiste Eoin in Dublin says sessions will be held ‘at a future date’

Pupils arriving at Coláiste Eoin in Stillorgan, Co. Dublin, on Wednesday morning. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

Pupils arriving at Coláiste Eoin in Stillorgan, Co. Dublin, on Wednesday morning. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

 

A Dublin school has denied cancelling workshops for students aimed at combating homophobic bullying.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Coláiste Eoin, an all-boys, non-fee-paying secondary school in Stillorgan, said it was “proposed” that the ShoutOut workshops would be held “at a future date”. The statement said the workshops were postponed on Tuesday following expressions of concern from parents.

Students were proposing to stage a protest against the postponment at their break on Wednesday.

Workers from ShoutOut, a voluntary organisation which runs classes on bullying around the country, arrived at the school on Tuesday morning prepared to run workshops with up to 80 Transition Year students.

“We were booked in for today and were to deliver four workshops to more than 80 students and that booking was made before Christmas,” Declan Meehan, schools co-ordinator for ShoutOut, told The Irish Times on Tuesday.

School statement

“We got an email at 10.30am this morning cancelling the workshop,” Mr Meehan said.

He said the workshop leader, who was out at the school by this time, was told by a member of staff the workshops had been cancelled “because the board of management had decided that both sides of the argument should be given”.

He also said various assurances had been sought on their behalf that the workshops would still go ahead, and that the school reiterated on numerous occasions that they would go ahead.

The controversy has prompted a visceral backlash from LGBT activists on social media, with politicians and celebrities, including talk show host Graham Norton, voicing their displeasure at the situation.

On social media on Tuesday evening, students at the school discussed holding a protest with some saying they would bring rainbow flags and ribbons to school on Wednesday.

In a statement, the school said on Wednesday:

“Shout Out have in recent years made workshop presentations to Transition Year students in Coláiste Eoin and no issues or objections have arisen from such. On this particular occasion, however, the Board of Management have received written communications from a number of parents outlining their concerns regarding the workshop.

“In this context it was incumbent on the Board to address all issues and to seek the advice available from Catholic management representative bodies available to secondary schools. It was at all times made clear to Shout Out that the scheduled workshop was not being cancelled and it is incorrect on their part to suggest otherwise. It is proposed to invite Shout Out to make their presentation at a future date in the course of the current academic year,” it said.

“Coláiste Eoin is a Catholic school and as such endeavours to promote a caring, tolerant and inclusive school community.”