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are schools doing enough to support trans students?

“Morning, girls. Morning, Jack.”

When Jackson Lennon (20) transitioned from female to male in an all-girls Dublin Catholic secondary school, he received great support from teachers and friends. However, he also says he confronted opposition from some quarters when he asked to dress a way that was consistent with his gender identity.

“The school was strict about uniforms, and everyone had to wear long skirts. They called me out of class a lot,” says Lennon.

“I was very close to one of my teachers and he really fought for me. A few teachers were like that, but he was a teacher representative on the board of management. He was a lovely, lovely man and he saw that I was very unhappy, that I was struggling,” Lennon says.

“He asked them why I couldn’t wear trousers. At the time there was no trouser option in the school [uniform] and he helped make it happen. The other students didn’t mind what I wore.

“Their only complaint was that I got to wear warm, fluffy socks when they had to wear tights through winter. But that became a joke. Nobody cared what I wore in the end.

“My mam stood by me the whole time, taking time off work because she didn’t want me to stop going to school. She wanted me to be happy and comfortable at school. Eventually, I was allowed to wear tracksuit pants, but they looked awful with the rest of the uniform. So, my mam brought me to the shop and we got proper trousers.”

Lennon says individual teachers responded differently: some were happy to use his preferred name; others were not. Some were sensitive and supportive, others came across as petty and unkind. He feels more could have been done by management, such as a training workshop on transgender students for staff.

“They made out like they were protecting me, that I’d get bullied if I stuck out like a sore thumb,” he says.

Lennon’s school did not respond to requests for comment.


How to respond to transgender students is an issue many Irish schools are only beginning to grapple with. Ireland is an outlier in its tendency to separate boys and girls in education. Apart from Muslim countries, Ireland has one of the highest instances of single-sex schooling in the world. This mode of organising young people proves problematic for those who don’t fall easily into one of two traditional gender categories.

Change is happening, albeit unevenly. We’re more used to seeing many schoolgirls wearing trousers, a seemingly gender-neutral option. Inside school buildings, some students have the option of gender-neutral toilets and changing facilities, but not all.

Other people not accepting a child will not make the child un-trans

Contributors to a 2020 qualitative research project undertaken by University of Limerick’s school of education and Transgender Equality Network Ireland (Teni) recount instances of bullying and intimidation in single-sex toilets.

Esther, the parent of a trans boy, explained how the 15-year-old was subjected to non-physical bullying because he used the male changing room. “I think they’d thrown his stuff on the floor. I was just so upset about that.” Another child reports being physically assaulted in a single-sex toilet.

PE lessons can prove problematic in both mixed and single-sex schools. Research shows many transgender students reported that discrimination prevented them from participating in sports fully and safely.

A further study carried out by Aoife Neary and Ruari-Santiago McBride reveals the limited pre-service and in-service training for school staff around gender diversity. Staff in the study said this left them feeling anxious and ill-prepared to support their transitioning students. A minority of students confided in a staff member only to be met with an invalidating response. One child, Shane, interviewed for the study, explained that even after his parents’ intervention, teachers continued to name him incorrectly, causing considerable distress.


Another child, Esme, recounting a similar experience, reported having panic attacks which led to non-attendance, impacting on her education and development. The study includes examples of indirect bullying and transphobia among staff, in line with international findings.

However, staff are also described as “helpful” and “compassionate” in the report, particularly when school leaders play a key role in educating and training the school community appropriately. Simple steps such as apologising for an error in pronoun usage make a significant difference to children’s wellbeing.

Dr Malie Coyne, a clinical psychologist, says the type of school really matters.

“I know of transgender children who have moved school because there was little inclusivity in their previous school,” she says.

“A gendered uniform is extremely difficult for these children. Having to wear a skirt when you identify as a boy can be humiliating.

“It will have an impact on their mental health and wellbeing; that’s enough of a reason to support the child. This needs to be part of the SPHE [Social Personal and Health Education] programme in schools, where transgender issues are discussed with all children.”

Coyne says it is crucially important to the wellbeing of a young person that his or her gender identity is treated with dignity, respect and fairness.

Practical decisions must be taken to reflect differences within the school community

“Other people not accepting a child will not make the child un-trans. Children [who are trans] growing up will realise they’re not comfortable in their body and it could take years for them to come to terms with that.

“Sometimes the biggest challenge can be for the child to accept it themselves. You put that on top of being a teenager when the brain is under construction and your hormones are flaring, and your body is changing, and you’ve got this fear of your body developing.

“It’s no surprise that their mental health can be impacted, which is the reason we need to support children on their journeys of identity. They have every right to be themselves.”


Parents’ representatives say consultation should happen in schools so everybody has a voice. Áine Lynch of the National Parents Council Primary says: “This isn’t just about gender, it’s also about cultural inclusivity. Practical decisions must be taken to reflect differences within the school community. These consultations need to happen frequently so that nobody is left out.”

John Curtis of the Joint Managerial Board, which supports most voluntary secondary schools, says uniforms rarely pose a problem in the sector.

“Most of the schools we work with are single-sex. Uniforms can play an important role in providing a level playing field.

“Nobody is looking over their shoulder at who has or hasn’t got the latest runners, everyone is the same. If any individual issues arise, they are dealt with and sorted out at local level. We have excellent relationships with all parties involved.”

Jackson Lennon (20), transitioned from female to male in an all-girls Dublin Catholic secondary school. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne
Jackson Lennon (20), transitioned from female to male in an all-girls Dublin Catholic secondary school. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne

Changing times: How some schools are adapting their policies

Toilets: Newly-built schools now have the option of gender-neutral toilets. Instead of traditional boys’ and girls’ toilets with urinals or cubicles in closed-off rooms, the new design is based on private cubicles that open into a public or common washbasin area.

Uniforms: More schools are moving to provide a variation in uniform policy (trousers, skirts, tracksuits, etc). Single-sex schools are increasingly offering gender-neutral options, such as trousers in all-girls’ schools.

Pronouns: Schools are advised to discuss with students and their parents how they should refer to a student and day-to-day use of pronouns.

Official registers: Schools may change the name and gender of students on official databases with a gender recognition certificate, while the State Examinations Commission deals with cases individually.

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Do water features like a pool, pond or fountains add value to a home?

He may be used to making a splash in politics. But now it seems that Boris Johnson will be able to do that closer to home, too.

This week, it was revealed that the former prime minister has been given permission to build a swimming pool in the garden of his £3.78 million Oxfordshire country home. 

A move which will doubtless provide a restful place to unwind, exercise and relax as he navigates post-political life.

Deep pockets: A country home with outdoor swimming pool

Deep pockets: A country home with outdoor swimming pool 

But even if you don’t have deep pockets for such deep-water projects, it’s still possible to create the tranquil benefits of waterside living. 

Whether it’s through installing a hot tub, pond, or even decorative fountains. 

But, as our experts point out, it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons before splashing out…

Frequent attention

Introducing any kind of water feature to your garden requires some upkeep.

During the spring and summer, you’ll need to top up your water feature regularly to replenish water loss caused by evaporation. 

And there’s also the task of removing branches and leaves as well as pruning bushes nearby.

‘It’s also a good idea to give your water feature a thorough clean and add a wildlife-friendly algaecide or UV steriliser after cleaning,’ says Will Haxby, home and garden sales director at Haddonstone, which specialises in stonework ‘as this will prevent algae growth build-up caused by the warm conditions.’ 

When the temperatures drop, drain off water before the winter to protect your feature from frost. 

You’ll also need to clean the pump to remove any limescale build-up.

Will it add value?

Installing features like fountains can add to the kerb appeal of your home, says Tabitha Cumming, a property expert at The Lease Extension Company, says: ‘This means that it will make a better first impression and potentially add value to your home.’

Amer Siddiq, founder and CEO at Landlord Vision, believes that water features such as fountains can have other benefits, too.

‘They can help mask unwanted noises from roads or neighbours. They can also attract birds and wildlife, adding a touch of nature to your surroundings.’

Andrew Landers, director at Property Rescue, a home-buying service, says: ‘The post-covid world has seen the importance of outside space massively increase, and any enhancements that make this space more enjoyable is going to have a positive impact on the value of a home.’

Hidden costs

Factor additional costs into your budget, too, since water features rarely boil down to a single, one-off payment.

‘For example if any of your water features have fish, these can incur additional costs from the food and care that they will require, and you will also need to be vigilant to keep them safe from predators,’ says Cumming. 

Some features can cause structural issues, too. 

‘Fountains may become damaged through wear and tear or have cracks caused by water freezing over,’ she adds.

Beware risks

In summer, having a water feature will make you a magnet for friends and family who want to pop around and cool down. 

All of which, says Anna Giles, an associate at law firm Wedlake Bell, could increase scope for accidents

‘Homeowners should bear in mind that they could be subject to a claim for compensation if someone injures themselves at their property, so reasonable care needs to be taken to ensure that visitors and/or occupiers of the property will be safe.’

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Furious landlord hits out at family from HELL after forking out THOUSANDS to fix property: ‘I gave them charity and they treated my home like a doss house’

A landlord who rented out his 3-bedroom County Durham terraced house to a family on housing benefits has been saddled with thousands of pounds in repair damage after the tenants moved out leaving the property looking ‘like a s*******’.

University lecturer Paul Rostron, 57, from Swindon, rents out three small properties in County Durham to contribute to his children’s university fees and had previously been blessed with good, responsible tenants. 

Unfortunately Paul has now been saddled with thousands of pounds worth of repairs and cleaning after his old tenants treated his house like a ‘doss house’ and left  behind mountains of rotting furniture and rubbish. 

In shocking pictures, Paul’s cosy terraced family home is beyond recognisable replaced by layers of dirt, grime and filth. 

The carpeted floors are covered in dust and wrappers as well as discarded clothes and cardboard boxes. 

After three years of habitation Paul's tenants left his house looking like a bombsite

After three years of habitation Paul’s tenants left his house looking like a bombsite

The once immaculate garden has been treated like a personal dump for years

Prior to their tenancy, Paul had spent thousands of pounds making the house cosy for his lodgers

Prior to their tenancy, Paul had spent thousands of pounds making the house cosy for his lodgers

A distraught Paul told MailOnline he had been charging his tenants lower than market rate for the property

A distraught Paul told MailOnline he had been charging his tenants lower than market rate for the property

Speaking to the MailOnline a distraught Paul revealed he was shocked at how little care the tenants had paid to his property in the three years they’d lived there. 

Sharing pictures of the property before the tenancy started, the attention to detail that Paul and his team of decorators had done to ensure his tenants are well looked after is obvious. 

This though, he says, wasn’t meant to last. 

He explained: ‘The tenants moved in in 2020, at the start of the pandemic. 

‘They had the house entirely immaculate. The walls were freshly painted and we had new carpets in at the start of their tenancy.

‘They treated it like a doss house – I have no idea what they did there.’

Paul originally bought the property for £34,000 in 2020 but says that due to the area he has had to rent out properties often at cut prices – meaning that he will be making an overall loss with the repairs. 

A carefully manicured children's room was treated like a pigsty and left with broken appliances

A carefully manicured children’s room was treated like a pigsty and left with broken appliances 

Stained mattresses and broken beds were left leaning against the walls of the small room

Stained mattresses and broken beds were left leaning against the walls of the small room

Rotting piles of rubbish were abandoned in the sitting room along with detritus

Rotting piles of rubbish were abandoned in the sitting room along with detritus 

Cardboard boxes, children's toys and rubbish were littered across the conservatory

Cardboard boxes, children’s toys and rubbish were littered across the conservatory 

Paul was forced to spend thousands of pounds subjecting the house to a deep clean

Paul was forced to spend thousands of pounds subjecting the house to a deep clean

He explained: ‘The tenants were not able to pay the rent themselves so we got them the Universal Credit and got housing benefit to pay the rent

‘They were paying £380-a-month for a three bedroom terraced house. I was making a loss.

‘I was basically giving them charity and in return they treated my house like a s*******’

Since the nightmare renters moved out, Paul has been left to pick up the pieces. 

As well as deep cleaning the rancid property, Paul has had to personally make a host of costly repairs including outfitting the house with new carpets. 

He continued: ‘They moved out two weeks ago and we had to move three skips worth of rubbish out of the house. 

‘That cost over £1,000. . I’ve got to put new carpets in there as well.

‘As for the kitchen, it was disgusting, it made us all vomit so we had to get professional cleaning services in to do all the units and everything. 

‘The cooker was a shambles.

The carpets had rotted away so we had to replace them and have all the house painted all the way throughout.’

The toilet had never been cleaned and the bathroom was filled with waste products

The toilet had never been cleaned and the bathroom was filled with waste products 

Paul had intended to use the rent to help put his children through university

Paul had intended to use the rent to help put his children through university

Aside from the obvious disgust and inconvenience his tenants have caused him, the repair fiasco has left Paul in a lurch with his own children’s university fees – which he contributes to with his side earnings as a landlord. 

He said: ‘I use the money I get from my three rental properties to help my children through university and I’ve taken quite a hit on this. It has cost me thousands of pounds.

‘The maximum deposit you can set is about 5 weeks worth of rent – which doesn’t cover the damages at all.

‘My rental agent told me it was the worst state of a house he’d ever seen. It’s just shocking.’

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“The Creator”: A Glimpse Into A Future Defined By Artificial Intelligence (AI) Warfare

By Cindy Porter

In “The Creator” visionary director Gareth Edwards thrusts us into the heart of a dystopian future, where the battle lines are drawn between artificial intelligence and the free Western world.

Set against the backdrop of a post-rebellion Los Angeles, the film grapples with pressing questions about the role of AI in our society.

A Glimpse into a Future Defined by Artificial Intelligence (AI) Warfare

A Glimpse into a Future Defined by Artificial Intelligence (AI) Warfare

While the narrative treads familiar ground, it is timely, given the rising prominence of artificial intelligence in our daily lives.

A Fusion of Genres

Edwards embarks on an ambitious endeavor, blending elements of science fiction classics with contemporary themes.

The result is a cinematic stew reminiscent of James Cameron’s “Aliens” tinged with shades of “Blade Runner” a dash of “Children of Men,” and a sprinkle of “Akira” This concoction, while intriguing, occasionally veers toward familiarity rather than forging its own distinct identity.

Edwards’ Cinematic Journey

The British filmmaker, known for his foray into doomsday scenarios with the BBC docudrama “End Day” in 2005, has traversed a path from indie gem “Monsters” (2010) to the expansive Star Wars universe with “Rogue One” (2016).

“The Creator” marks another bold step in his repertoire. The film introduces compelling concepts like the posthumous donation of personality traits, punctuated by impactful visuals, and raises pertinent ethical dilemmas. It stands as a commendable endeavor, even if it occasionally falters in execution.

Navigating Complexity

In his pursuit of depth, Edwards at times stumbles into the realm of convolution, leaving the audience grappling with intricacies rather than immersing in the narrative.

While adept at crafting visual spectacles and orchestrating soundscapes, the film occasionally falters in the art of storytelling.

In an era where classic storytelling is seemingly on the wane, some may argue that this approach is emblematic of the times.

AI: Savior or Peril?

“The Creator” leaves us with a question that resonates long after the credits roll: Will artificial intelligence be humanity’s salvation or its undoing? The film’s take on machine ethics leans toward simplicity, attributing AI emotions to programmed responses.

This portrayal encapsulates the film’s stance on the subject – a theme as enigmatic as the AI it grapples with.

“The Creator”

Director: Gareth Edwards.
Starring: John David Washington, Gemma Chan, Madeleine Yuna Boyles, Ken Watanabe.
Genre: Science fiction.
Release Year: 2023.
Duration: 133 minutes.
Premiere Date: September 29.


Top 5 Movies by Gareth Edwards:

1. “Monsters” (2010)

– A breakout hit, “Monsters” showcases Edwards’ talent for blending intimate human drama with towering sci-fi spectacles. Set in a world recovering from an alien invasion, it’s a poignant tale of love amidst chaos.

2. “Rogue One” (2016)

– Edwards helms this epic Star Wars installment, seamlessly integrating new characters with the beloved original trilogy. It’s a testament to his ability to navigate complex narratives on a grand scale.

3. “End Day” (2005)

– This BBC docudrama marked Edwards’ entry into the world of speculative storytelling. Presenting five doomsday scenarios, it set the stage for his later exploration of dystopian futures.

4. “The Creator” (2023)

– Edwards’ latest venture, “The Creator,” immerses audiences in a future fraught with AI warfare. While not without its challenges, it boldly tackles pertinent questions about the role of artificial intelligence in our lives.

5. Potential Future Project

– As Edwards continues to push the boundaries of speculative cinema, audiences eagerly anticipate his next cinematic endeavor, poised to be another thought-provoking addition to his illustrious filmography.

“The Creator” stands as a testament to Gareth Edwards’ unyielding vision and his penchant for exploring the frontiers of speculative cinema.

While it doesn’t shy away from the complexities of AI, it occasionally falters in navigating its intricate narrative.

As we peer into this cinematic crystal ball, we’re left with a stark question: Will artificial intelligence be our beacon of hope, or will it cast a shadow over humanity’s future? Only time will unveil the answer.

We Can’t Thank You Enough For Your Support!

— By Cindy Porter

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