Anti-Bullying Workshop Cancelled for Failing to Present “Other Side”

A Facebook meme posted by upset Coláiste Eoin students.

A planned anti-bullying workshop at a Catholic school in County Dublin, Ireland, was cancelled because school administrators said that it did not represent the “other side” of the issue, though they remained vague about what that might be.

Facilitators from Shout Out, an LGBT education group contracted by the school to conduct the workshop, had already arrived at Coláiste Eoin secondary school when administrators told them the event was cancelled, reported the BBC.

Parents had complained about the workshop, which Shout Out had done twice before at the all-boys school without previous incident. According to the principal Finín Máirtín, the workshop did not present the “other side,” which the school later clarified as meaning “other view points which have been expressed.” The The Journal reports the school’s Board of Management is choosing to stand by the administrator’s decision.

The workshop, led by LGBT twenty-somethings with experience in Irish schools, is described on ShoutOut’s website in the following way:

“Homophobic and transphobic bullying is a real and life-threatening problem in Irish schools. 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.”

Coláiste Eoin students took to social media to protest the decision. They organized on Facebook to wear rainbow clothing during classes the next day, enlisting the support of the neighboring Catholic all-girls school to join the protest. A hashtag, #ColaisteEoin, also gained prominence on Twitter. Even Ireland’s Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan weighed in on the controversy by expressing her disappointment and her hope that the program would be rescheduled soon.

Coláiste Eoin administrators released a statement saying that they are proposing to reschedule the workshop because they are a “caring, tolerant and inclusive school community.” However, Declan Meehan of ShoutOut has contacted the school repeatedly, and he has been told that the initial decision stands.

It is difficult to think of what “other side” there is to an anti-bullying workshop. Treating every person according to their human dignity and condemning discrimination are entirely consistent with Catholic teaching. There is no excuse for the bullying of LGBTQ youth. The church’s schools in Ireland and elsewhere should do their utmost to prevent this  harmful phenomenon. Coláiste Eoin should reverse their decision and invite SpeakOut to present the workshop with the school’s full apology.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

5 thoughts on “Anti-Bullying Workshop Cancelled for Failing to Present “Other Side”

  1. Lynne Miller February 2, 2015 / 3:39 am

    has no one stated what these other points of view might be? is it just the old school view that differing expressions of gender are “against the church” or “against christianity?” surely no one is stating that bullying and harassing students for any reason is ok?

  2. Friends February 2, 2015 / 4:48 am

    Sometimes we wish we had a direct hotline to their terrestrial ecclesiastical boss, Pope Francis! I suspect that a direct personal phone call from His Holiness would reverse their socially retrograde entrenchment in very quick order.

  3. Kat February 2, 2015 / 8:40 am

    Bullying is terribly harmful to the victim, but also to its source. The bully is a person who is heading down the wrong road and needs help. Maybe the lgbt students can work together to help these young people find their goodness. They need help finding Jesus or something. They are in a bad place with all that bully hate. Maybe that’s the missing piece in the school program? Please let me know what you think. Thank you.

  4. KAYTHEGARDENER February 4, 2015 / 4:39 pm

    Maybe it’s my American English, but the only “other side of anti-bullying” that I can think of is “pro-bullying”!
    Is that the kind of behavior that this school wishes to encourage among its staff & students??

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