The Irish Prime Minister has backed plans to teach elementary school children about what it means to be transgender. This after an association of Catholic elementary school managers wrote a letter to ministers in opposition to teaching about transgender issues citing concerns that the information is unscientific and could be contributing to a psychological contagion.
According to The Independent, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar joined Irish Children’s Minister Roderick O’Gorman in supporting transgender education as part of the elementary curriculum, stating that “the purpose of the education system is to prepare children for life and to teach them about the world.”
“Trans people exist. They have always existed and I think it makes more sense in schools to just inform children about the world around them,” said Varadkar. “It does not have to be a value judgment as to whether it is right or wrong.”
“But it just makes sense to me that education is about teaching children about the real world,” he continued. “Trans people exist in the real world so why not just give them information and facts.”
However, Varadkar stressed that he believed parents should be given the option to withdraw their child from certain classes, stating that parents ultimately know what is best for their children.
The Catholic Primary Schools Management Association (CPSMA) sent a letter to government ministers arguing that elementary school students should not be learning what it means to be transgender, given the lack of scientific consensus on the issue, and over concerns that it may contribute to “a growing psychological contagion” in children.
The letter stated that teaching elementary-age children “what it means to be transgender would require to teach something about which there is neither a scientific nor a social consensus to highly impressionable young children.”
This would be “counterproductive, generating unnecessary divisions in school communities where none exist now,” and “more seriously, it might add to a growing psychological contagion amongst young and vulnerable children.”
“We believe a more prudent and sensible policy is to teach children to respect every human being and to allow children to be children,” the letter continues. “We should not prematurely introduce children to complex and sensitive topics around which there is no scientific or medical consensus.”
CPSMA general secretary Seamus Mulconry told The Independent that the association, whose schools cater to approximately 500,000 students, has worked with a significant number of schools “to ensure children who are gender questioning are treated with respect, consideration and support as they navigate these issues.”
“It is not, in general, a major issue or a source of controversy in our schools,” Mulconry added. “However, CPSMA believe that it is neither prudent, nor age-appropriate, to attempt to teach primary school children about ‘what it means to be transgender’.”
“There is no scientific consensus on the cause [or causes] of gender dysphoria and there is currently an intense international debate on the appropriate treatment of children with gender dysphoria,” continued the CPSMA letter. “For example, the affirmative care model has recently been rejected in Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands and the UK.”
“Secondly, there is mounting evidence of psychological contagion. In the UK the numbers of children referred to the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) rose from 50 a year in 2009 to 25,000 (sic) in 2020.” This appears to be a typo as the referrals to GIDS rose from 50 to 2,500 with a further 4,600 on the waiting list according to the interim report of the Cass Review.
“Significantly, this increase in referrals was accompanied by a change in the case-mix from predominantly birth-registered males with gender incongruence from an early age, to predominantly birth-registered females presenting with later onset of reported gender incongruence in early teen years,” said the CPSMA.
“In addition, approximately one-third of children and young people referred to GIDS have autism or other types of neurodiversity.”
The debate surrounding the teaching of gender identity ideology in Irish schools has heated up in recent weeks with the appeal of teacher Enoch Burke hitting the headlines. Burke was suspended from Wilson’s Hospital School in County Westmeath last September for refusing to use the gender neutral pronoun “they” for a student. He was then sent to prison for disobeying a court order to stay away from the school during his suspension. Last month the Court of Appeal agreed to hear his case.
Last month, a video created by Ireland’s largest teachers’ union circulated on social media and drew international criticism for its content. In the animated video that appears to be aimed at very young children, a teacher teaches a class that boys can change into girls and girls can change into boys.