Guest Posts for Equality: These people are not teachers.

In the run-up to Ireland’s Marriage Equality referendum on May 22nd, I’ve invited a series of guest posters– people from Ireland or who live here, of many different backgrounds and orientations- to share their thoughts on the referendum, the campaign, and what it means to them. Contributions to Guest Posts for Equality are welcome- drop me a message

Unfortunately I can’t give you a bio for this piece’s author. He has kept his name from this article both because he wants to maintain his practice of not expressing his opinions through his professional identity and because, sadly, due to Section 37 it is still inadvisable to come out when you’re a teacher without job security.


I am a teacher. I help young people to develop and grow, to recognise their strengths and to become the brilliant people they can be. To say I love this work is a massive understatement. I have met vastly different kinds of young people, all unique and all with different strengths and talents. It has been an honour to be their teacher.

In this role, I have many responsibilities. For example, in helping my students to develop as their own people, it is not my job to impart my views and opinions to them and expect them to fall in line. As such, I never discuss my politics or my personal life in class, as is proper. Separately, I’m a gay man. Needless to say I have personally found the run-up to this referendum hard. I expected that. I didn’t expect to find it hard as a teacher, but then I learned about the “Teachers for No” group set up on 14 May.

One of the primary responsibilities of a teacher is to care. To foster a safe environment for their students, to accept and embrace diversity as represented through the individuals they teach, and to allow those young people to develop and grow in a warm, accepting environment.

It is not to create an atmosphere wherein even one of their students is made to feel second-class because of who they are. Choose any ten schools at random and look at their mission statements. You’ll see messages about inclusion, safety and caring. This group represents none of those things. Like much of the No campaign all they represent is their own discomfort at a reality that they can no longer pretend isn’t there.

Objectivity is important, but even casting aside my own personal reasons for opposing the No campaign, the effect of their message and its tone on young people is abhorrent. These people claim to be standing up for children. They are not. They stand up for a dying era in Irish history which saw untold suffering in so many different ways, and standing against a better future for many of the young people they have the responsibility to care for.

These people are not teachers.


Guest Posts for Equality: These people are not teachers.


Giant oooops. I wrote this one last week but seem to not quite yet have the hang of impressive complexities like “actually hitting post when I’m writing a thing on my ipad and did I mention I got an ipad ohmygawwwd it is so pretty. Anyway, here it is now- barely even out of date ’cause I’m still working a ton of hours at the mo.

Despite having a drafts folder the size of Scrooge McDuck’s money vault, this week (er, last week – updatedMe) is going to be pretty sparse on the blogging front. One of the things about how I pay the bills- I teach English as an additional language in a private school- is that it’s incredibly seasonal. Either there’s no work at all, or we have a shedload of groups and we’re all pulling double shifts. This week is the latter, so instead of being cosied up with my laptop, I’ll be keeping bunches of teenagers entertained and contained while convincing them that yes, I do understand how to swear in four different languages (an essential junior TEFL teacher survival skill) and occasionally even throwing an English word or two in their direction. And at the end of that, it’s time to bundle into a car with several of my stinkiest and most beloved friends to travel halfway across the country to strap on some skates and knock the shite out of each other.

I’ll never forget my first days teaching- well, the first that stuck anyhow (there was a previous attempt but that’s a story that gets told over a bottle or three of wine). I was fairly confident that I’d be able to handle things- after all, I’d been tutoring, facilitating workshops and even giving the occasional speech for years. And my first class went fine- sure, the teenagers were less inclined to talk than what I was used to, but no bother- I was well able to get the ice broken and get them participating.

And then I walked into my second class. Continue reading “Teaching”