Catholic school receives lawyer’s letter over gay event
Declan Meehan, above, Deputy director of Cara-Friend, an LGBT-support organisation based in Belfast, has hit out at the parents of a pupil who refused to put up a poster for a gay event held at the weekend in the city.
The Northern Ireland parents, according to this report, retained a solicitor to warn the school that gay material does not belong in a Catholic institution.
The boy’s father said:
We are sending our children to get a Catholic education in a renowned Catholic school.
He added that the poster his son was asked to hang was:
Promoting a lifestyle that we vehemently disagree with.
The solicitor they retained is seeking an assurance from St Patrick’s that this won’t happen again.
Meehan, in this Belfast Telegraph report, said the school:
Is an excellent example of promoting LGBTQ+ inclusion and visibility in schools and fine example of true Christian ethos through that inclusion and visibility.
The LGBTQ+ Youth Forum’s primary aim is to give voice to otherwise voiceless young people and to provide a safe space for them to discuss issues that are important to them, which are sometimes left out of mainstream discussions around what young people need.
An incident such as this highlights the importance of this Forum all the more.
It is highly regrettable that the parents in this case felt it necessary to issue a solicitor’s letter. Surely this should be the last resort after engaging with the school.
As noted in this story the young person refused to put up the poster and was not forced to do so against his wishes, therefore no rights were infringed upon.
Meehan added the poster “could potentially have given support and information to someone who really needs it” and that the “balancing of rights that would outweigh any objections this one family could have as it does not detract from any rights or protections afforded them.”
The weekend forum saw LGBTQ+ young people from all across Northern Ireland gather for a day of consultations and discussions around the matters which matter most to LGBTQ+ young people. It was opened by the NI Commissioner for Children and Young People, Koulla Yiasouma.
It was open to those between the ages of 12 and 25:
Who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, non-binary, queer or questioning.
St Patrick’s website says the school is:
Noted for its warm, welcoming atmosphere and for the positive, affirming relationships among students, teachers and parents.
Being a Catholic school, we are keenly aware of our responsibility to build upon the values of the homes and parishes our students come from, and we seek to nurture faith and Christian living in all our students.