Education Minister dismisses counsellors LGBT students issue, says it’s not important & a minority matter.
Clarity is so crucial but as this matter drags out or dies down if ever so slowly the puzzle gets more pulled apart. This entry was supposed to be a part of two previous posts but in the preparation of the extract it dawned on me I had missed some crucial points; it is never too late for a shower of rain I say. Sections of social media are still on it despite the elections issues are more prominent but it cannot be divorced as the pandering is on in earnest from both political parties.
In response to JFLAG’s supposed call issued on January 12 2016 ill-timed as it was in my eyes to investigate the position taken by the JAGCE President Minister of Education Ronnie Thwaites similar to what he did in the HFLE Home and Family Life Education manual fiasco dismissed LGBT considerations as not important and suggested it should not be addressed as more serious matters attend and is a minority. Speaking at a function in January (just managed to confirm it via audio clip) at the Oxford Road HEART Trust NTA he said such matters of counsellors were not high on the ministry’s agenda at this time.
“The issue of the LBGT community while I accept it is important, I understand how emotional and electric it can be frankly it is not the highest priority on my agenda as far as student behaviour is concerned; what bothers me is the abuse of girls, the brutality issued out to boys, issues to do with parental neglect, inadequate performance....”
He continued that these are huge issues affecting far more people and that “ ........ we do not major in the minors........”
The minister continued that a formal investigation is not necessary, he said his ministry will interrogate the JAGCE soon to determine any reports of infractions and that his task is to set policy with a view to extend compassion to any issue especially ones involving human behaviour.
Bearing in mind in another forum he was reported to have said he had received nor report on any student/parent and non engagement with guidance counsellors.
Meanwhile the implicated JAGCE President Nina Dixon in an interview on Nationwide radio with a counsellor Nadine Maloy, Ruel Reid Principal of Jamaica College and another Principal one Kassan Troupe on January 19, 2016 said the following practically changing her stance in my eyes when asked about her comment to the Gleaner:
“We notice that really some counsellors are uncomfortable dealing with issues that they were not trained to deal with; counsellors are well trained, we have well trained counsellors in our country but some counsellors are uncomfortable giving guidance without proper information dealing with that sensitive topic ....... it’s a taboo; it’s still a taboo topic.”
When asked if counsellors are refusing to counsel LGBT students she said:
“No, they would be fired, we work for the ministry of education and the ministry states that we look at students and listen to their issues, if we are uncomfortable or if we don’t feel that we can help that student fully we have a referral system that we utilize; and we have different agencies and different specialists that we turn to when things get difficult; you know that we can’t handle or deal with.”
She then made the definitive denial:
“A guidance counsellor has never refused to treat a student however they’ve stated that they are uncomfortable with some situations and sometimes it is based on their Christianity, what they’ve been taught in the church, how they’ve been raised; our culture."
Now I am even more befuddled than ever since this matter broke as where is the proof from Miss Nina that NO counsellor was dismissed due to non-engagement while not specifying LGBT students as the subject in the sessions and why didn’t Cliff Hughes and Dennis Brooks who interviewed her allowed that to simply fly pass in the wind? The JAGCE President did not mention the suicide matter as she did in another interview she gave to President of the anti gay group Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship LCF Helen Coley Nicholson and posted here. Given what transpired some years ago from as early as 2004 from memory when a male student was set upon by his own father who incited a mob at Dunoon High School and the subsequent discussions involving folks such as the late Dr Heather Little-White which resulted in some incremental changes to the referral systems as it was also unearthed that some counsellors were inappropriately using referrals as a cop-out or others were using a reparative therapy strategy for change while forcing students to suppress same gender desires with some transgender students allegedly being told they have a mental problem as well. Then came the ‘Lesbian learning matter’ and so called coercion on female students by other students as well as posted here; after the firestorm the Principals’ Association, guidance counsellors and other professionals also huddled sometimes in tense sessions to iron out the way forward and similar discomfort issues were mentioned which led to a further tightening of the referral systems etc.
So it seems both JFLAG and the JAGCE President need to heed some advice in terms of tracking what both entities have done regarding this business of counsellors, LGBTQ students and where or what actually happened so that we can avoid such firestorms as this again; foot in mouth seems a chronic re-infection for the goodly J especially when the new blood do not take the time review the files or remove previously published press releases on similar matters so as to plan how to tread when present issues arrive as a curve ball at the crease. In the same breath the JAGCE President in addressing the matter at the Gleaner forum should have been guarded in her answer not for to deceive or cover up but for clarity and issue a caution answer whilst reviewing her own organization’s file as to what preceded her tenure seeing she seems young.
When will we have the courage in the education systems and at policy despite mere tokenism from the MOE on tolerance? The HFLE matter is still fresh in my mind despite years have passed as nationally we missed a golden opportunity to address early initiation, homo-curiosity, sexual orientation issues, sexuality, gender identity and such regarding teens instead fear got the better or persons who were supposed to be rational.
JAMAICA COALITION FOR A HEALTHY SOCIETY, JCHS CONTINUED CONFUSION OF PAEDOPHILIA & CONSENTING HOMOSEXUALITY. 2012
Think on these things.
Peace & tolerance
Early Sexual Initiation and Lack of Perceived Risk Put Youth at Risk