On July 18th, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) published the Draft Junior Cycle Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) Curriculum. Belong To, a national organisation for LGBTQ+ youth, welcomes the publication of this draft curriculum as a positive step towards the full inclusion of LGBTQ+ students and identities in second-level schools in Ireland. The draft curriculum takes a four-strand approach, with inclusivity and respect for a broad range of identities, including gender identity and sexual orientation, at its core.
Upon initial review, Belong To praises the draft curriculum’s naming of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression as “core parts of human identity” under students’ learning outcomes. Understanding gender stereotypes and identity-based discrimination are further learning outcomes for students included in the draft curriculum that have been welcomed by Belong To. The organisation looks forward to engaging in the consultation process, and highlighting the need to name comprehensive training and support for teachers in the final curriculum.
Speaking in response to the publication of the draft SPHE Junior Cycle Curriculum, Moninne Griffith (she/her), CEO of Belong To says: “We welcome the publication of the draft Junior Cycle SPHE curriculum by the NCCA and look forward to engaging in the consultation process. Through our research and our frontline services, LGBTQ+ young people have told us about the lack of LGBTQ+-inclusive education generally, and relationship and sexuality education (RSE) in particular, in some second-level schools. This consultation process is a unique opportunity for LGBTQ+ youth, their parents, educators, youth workers, and broader communities to have their voice heard, and give direct input into the development of the SPHE and RSE curriculum.
Teachers are in touch with us regularly seeking support, training and resources to teach on these topics, which is why we have developed an e-learning module for educators working with LGBTQ+ youth. We hope that the final curriculum contains comprehensive training and support for educators, to ensure that it is taught in full to students across the country. Through this process, we are hopeful that all young people will have access to relationship and sexuality education that meets their needs.”
The NCCA welcomes feedback on the draft curriculum from educators, young people, parents, and organisations working with young people. Submissions will be accepted by the NCCA until mid-October this year, visit ncca.ie/en/updates-and-events/consultations/ for more details.