Irish School Plans Workshop Against Anti-Homophobic Bullying, Then Cancels It Because Both Sides Should Be Presented

A gay-rights organization had their plans to host an anti-homophobic bullying workshop cancelled at the last minute, after the school cited concerns from parents, Irish Times is reporting.

ShoutOut is an organization that, according to their website, hosts workshops in schools throughout Ireland to teach the students about anti-LGBTQ bullying.

“Our one hour interactive sessions build understanding for people who are struggling with their sexuality, foster support amongst friends and classmates, and encourage a supportive and welcoming school environment for LGBTQ students.”

ShoutOut spokesperson Declan Meehan claims that his organization was prepared to run the workshops at Coláiste Eoin in Stillorgan until they were told to back off at the last possible minute.

“We were booked in for today and were to deliver four workshops to more than 80 students and that booking was made before Christmas. We got an email at 10.30am this morning cancelling the workshop. [sic]”

The reason for the cancellation, according to Breaking News, was that the school’s Catholic management felt that “both sides of the argument should be represented.”

Coláiste Eoin is an all-boys “non-fee-paying” school; roughly equivalent to what would be called a “public school” in the United States. However, in Ireland, even state-funded schools are largely under the control of the local Catholic diocese, according to Saluanassabay.

Since the news broke of the school’s canceling the anti-bullying workshops, the school has disputed some aspects of ShoutOut’s version of the story.

First, the school rejects the claim that the workshops were planned and about to happen, and then cancelled at the last minute. Rather, the school claims that it was only in the beginning stages of considering hosting the anti-bullying workshops at an unspecified date in the future, according to the Irish Times.

Second, the school denies that the decision to ban the workshops was made because of concerns about “both sides” being presented. Rather, the school claims, via a statement issued to parents, that the workshops were withdrawn after a number of parents expressed concern.

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

Regardless of which version events is true, one thing is clear: the boys at Coláiste Eoin won’t be attending an anti-homophobic bullying workshop any time soon.

[Image courtesy of Fox News]