Colaiste Eoin, an Irish language secondary school in Stillorgan, this morning cancelled a volunteer-run workshop aimed at tackling homophobic bullying.
ShoutOut, an LGBTQ charity founded by former Trinity student Eoin O’Liathain that aims to bring about “open discourse around sexual orientation and gender identity in schools”, was turned away at the steps of the school despite the workshop having been reportedly booked for months.
The principal of the school, seemingly alluding to the upcoming same-sex marriage referendum, is reported to have said that the board “feels that the other side needs to be heard” when giving an explanation for the cancellation.
ShoutOut’s national volunteer coordinator, Owen Murphy, told Trinity News that the charity has given two workshops in the school in the last two years and “never had an issue before.”
He said the school was “always very hospitable” and that it has “a really good anti-LGBT bullying policy.”
Murphy described his concern that publicising the rejection by Colaiste Eoin may “turn other schools off requesting a workshop. We are an entirely volunteer-based organisation that provide these workshops for free [and] we do not want to make any school feel like they cannot have us.”
He said that ShoutOut has given workshops “in every kind of school – Catholic, non-denominational, urban, rural, private, public” yet never had such an issue.
He described ShoutOut as being “an entirely apolitical organisation… just trying to tackle bullying. We are really saddened that we may have been caught up in the political landscape surrounding the referendum.”
Anna Livia Hickey, a student in social work at Trinity who was scheduled to volunteer at the school in the afternoon, told Trinity News that, given that the charity “runs its workshops with 16 year-old transition year students who are too young to vote in the upcoming referendum, it’s absolutely bizarre that a school would turn away ShoutOut and deny those students the support that we offer. Politics is not relevant to the work that we do.“
The school was unavailable for comment when contacted by Trinity News, but Eoin O’Liathain quotes them as having told the group, “We stand by our decision.”
Photo: ShoutOut founders, via shoutout.ie.