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  • Senator Sharon Keogan

Gender Identity - protecting children

Today in the Seanad I highlighted concerns whereby schools are making logistical decisions regarding the children under their care, without the knowledge or consent of the child’s parents.

This occurs when a child or children in a school tell their teacher that they no longer self-identify with their biological sex, and wish to be referred by a new name, new pronouns, and to be treated for all intents and purposes as if they were a student who is a member of the opposite sex.

As far as I am aware, there is no set national procedure for handling these instances – there are many resources and guidelines, none of which are independently drafted, but instead are gifted by advocacy groups such as BeLonG To and TENI, and individual schools seem to be left to their own devices when handling this issue.

We must ensure the highest standard of care possible for all children, including the children themselves who may be experiencing confusion around their identity – after all, anywhere from 63% to 94% of children who experience gender dysphoria will no longer experience such feelings by their late teens.

Those children then, are not well served by social transition, which is a powerful psychological intervention, placing them on a pathway to puberty blockers and hormone therapy. I recently discovered that if a girl is given testosterone for a mere 3 months, she will experience irreversible facial and chest hair growth for life – a tall price to pay for a decision made in one’s teens.

I think it’s time we had the Minister for Education into this House, to explain to us her plan for tackling this most serious issue, which will only become more commonplace in our schools if left unaddressed.

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