Tue | Aug 22, 2017

Letter of the Day: Not so, Mr JTA president

Published:Thursday | January 14, 2016 | 1:00 AM
JTA president, Norman Allen

THE EDITOR, Sir:

I was most appalled at the utterances of Mr Norman Allen on the issue of guidance counsellors dealing with LGBT students. Mr Allen is lamenting that Guidance Counsellors are not equipped to deal with such cases.

I must declare that I have the utmost respect for Mr. Allen and take nothing away from his invaluable contribution to the education of our children and the representation of our teachers, but for such utterances, Mr Allen, I am shocked, embarrassed, and disappointed in you.

Let me dissect what Mr Allen said. He started out saying counsellors might give the wrong guidance, and that is understandable, hence the call for the counsellors to be trained to deal with these matters.

Then he said that counsellors can't tell them to continue with an activity that is illegal. To this I want to ask Mr Allen, when a student comes before you for stealing - which is illegal - is your advice to them to continue stealing?

Mr Allen continues to say a counsellors first order of business would be to say to these children that they are engaging in something that is illegal. No Mr Allen, I cannot agree with you. No counselling session should start on such an accusatory judgemental tone or the real issues that may need to be dealt with will never come out.

My second issue with that point is what is illegal? Is it homosexuality or is it the act of buggery? Mr Allen continues to talk about referring these cases to the CDA, just like cases of abuse which I have no qualms with, and then he closes off by saying they are not equipped to treat with matters that are in the public sphere illegal. I am not sure what Mr Allen meant by "in the public sphere illegal" but may I remind you, Sir that illegal means contrary to law and not contrary to public opinion, and Guidance Counsellors deal with matters that are illegal everyday; students using drugs in school, stealing, cases of assault and the list goes on.

 

BE PREPARED

Members of the LGBT community are in every sphere of our society whether we want to accept it or not and it is important for our institutions of learning be prepared to deal with LGBT issues. Don't try to hide behind the flag of illegality to avoid a complex issue because the fact is being homosexual is not illegal. It is quite in order to ask for help or seek further training to deal with LGBT issues rather than writing them off as illegal matters. Let us remember that sex between minors whether it be homosexual or heterosexual is illegal.

We need to implement programmes that educate our children about sex and what can result from engaging in sex including sexually transmitted infections (STI'S) and how to protect themselves. This process inevitably incorporates our guidance counsellors because besides parents, they along with our teachers are the major sources of guidance for our children and hence must be trained and equipped to deal with sex and sexuality. They may need additional support I must add but it is fool hardy to suggest that it is not an issue for them.

Patrick Lalor

Human Rights Advocate &

Law Student University of London