Code of Conduct Could Target Religion Teachers

Country: Ireland

Date of incident: November 1, 2010

The Teaching Council of Ireland is using a Code of Professional Conduct that could lead to religion teachers being found guilty of “professional misconduct” for teaching core parts of their faith.

Number 4 of the Code of Professional Conduct requires all teachers to “interact” with students in a way that does not “discriminate and that promotes equality in relation to” – among others – “marital status”, “family status”, “sexual orientation” and “religion”.

Telling pupils that heterosexual marriage is “morally normative” or that the religion of the school “contains more of the truth than other religions” could have dramatic consequences for the teacher, the weekly newspaper “The Irish Catholic” reports. While the Teaching Council would take the ethos of the school into account, it would have to evaluate, if the teacher was “discriminating” on one of the points mentioned. “Teachers are at all times guided by an ethical focus and the Codes make this explicit”, the Teaching Council wrote in a response to “The Irish Catholic”.

If a complaint was made in relation to the matter, it would be considered under Part 5 of “The Teaching Council Act, 2001”, which deals with “Fitness to Teach”. Part 5 has not yet come into effect, but according to the Teaching Council this is to happen in the next few months. When it becomes law, a teacher found guilty of professional misconduct could be eliminated from the official register of teachers. A less severe penalty would involve sending the teacher for “further professional development”.

The “Codes of Professional Conduct” can be found here: