High School silent over SELB tribunal

Banbridge High School is staying tight-lipped on claims that a guest speaker at a school assembly made homophobic comments and condemned followers of other religions.

Wednesday, 21st May 2014, 8:19 am
Banbridge High principal Mr Andrew Bell.

As a result of the speech by an invited guest during assembly at the school in 2013, the Southern Education and Library Board took the unprecedented decision to establish a tribunal to examine whether the school breached guidelines on ‘collective worship’.

This is the first time a school here has been called before an independent tribunal of this kind.

School principal, Mr Andrew Bell, said he was unable to comment 
on the matter.

“Because of the nature of this tribunal, we are unable to make any comment at this stage,” said Mr Bell.

It is understood that some staff at the school walked out during the assembly, which took place last year, claiming an invited speaker had expressed anti-educational and homophobic views.

The complaint is being supported by the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO), which claims the school allowed “a platform for hate speeches.”

The union said it was concerned about “the public condemnation of minority groups, specifically the gay and lesbian community, atheists and people who are not evangelical Christians.”

The school has stressed that the opinions expressed by the speaker do not reflect the views or opinions of the school in any way.

Banbridge High School, which was established in 1957, has always had close links with the churches in the area.

Each week members of the local clergy, from various denominations, would have addressed the school 
during assembly.

The school has also prided itself on its work within the local community, raising funds for charity and with the school choir often performing around Banbridge.