Jun 042012
Institute Of Technology, Sligo

Two students at Sligo Institute of Technology who have made an educational video for small children about same-sex parents hope to generate a debate about the rights of non-traditional family units.

Katie Young (22), from Ballinode, Co Sligo, and Grace Hughes (23) from Cross, Co Mayo, believe a legislative amendment is necessary to widen the Constitution’s definition of the family.

The students, both in their fourth year of an early childhood care and education programme, have made an educational DVD, aimed at a pre-school audience.

The DVD, Emma and Charlie’s Fun Day Out, has been downloaded on YouTube.

It tells the story of two friends, Emma (6), who lives with her two mothers, and Charlie (7), who lives with his two dads.

It was made as part of a resource pack, “Modern Families”, for early years’ practitioners and junior and senior infants.

The pack includes guidelines for practitioners, posters, a board game, a story book and other play props.

The project was partly inspired by a desire to ensure that the rights of gay friends and relatives were protected.

“We don’t know how many same-sex families there are in Ireland, but even if there were only two we feel it is important for all schools to acknowledge this issue,” Ms Young said.

The students believe that as gay people become more open about their sexuality and more visible because of developments such as the civil partnership legislation, same-sex families will also become more visible.

Letting small children know about the existence of same-sex families could help counter bullying and isolation later on, the students have explained.

“Children living in traditional family units see their home life reflected in the curriculum and it is important that all children feel included,” Ms Hughes explained.

IT Sligo early childhood care and education lecturer Tamsin Cavaliero said the project was timely, given the recent introduction of civil partnership legislation.

The four-year honours programme at IT Sligo prepares graduates for work in the early-years sector, and in special needs, while some students also transfer to primary school teacher training.