A new campaign for LGBTI education as a statutory right in the curriculum of Scottish schools has been launched to tackle homophobic attitudes among young people and to increase the confidence of the LGBTI community.
Sign the petition here
Time for Inclusive Education (TIE) is trying to get members of the public to sign a Scottish Parliament public petition to convince politicians to support the proposal and to kick-start a national debate on the subject.
They want people across the nation to be open about their time at school – their experiences of homophobia at school, and their journey towards self acceptance – by submitting their own story to firstname.lastname@example.org. This will be presented to the Scottish Parliament.
A report into the experience of LGBTI pupils at schools in Scotland found that 54% do not feel part of their school communities, while 71% regularly skip school.
54% who have experienced direct homophobic bullying are regularly self-harming, while 26% of those bullied have attempted suicide.
The campaign has been launched by two Scottish activists, Jordan Daly (20) and Liam Stevenson (37).
Daly is a student at Glasgow University and struggled to accept his sexuality whilst at school, where he found no solace nor support. Sharing his experiences as an LGBTI young person to Stevenson led both to ignite the campaign for serious educational change.
Daly said of the campaign: “The current Scottish Education System allows schools to opt-out of progressive teaching programmes that include LGBTI youth. If we truly are a forward thinking society, then we need a progressive and inclusive education system to reflect this.”
The campaigners are hoping that by tackling the issue and sparking national debate in Scotland, they can send ripples throughout the rest of the United Kingdom and encourage other activists and LGBTI+ organisations to step up.
The campaign is being supported by a variety of activists and influence figures in the Scottish progressive movement, including co-convener of the Scottish Green Party Patrick Harvie (MSP).
Rob McDowall, Member of the Equality Council and Chair of LGBT Network, said: “I applaud the petitioners campaign to have a more LGBTI+ representative curriculum taught in Scotland’s schools.
“Young people need to be empowered to reject bigotry in all its forms, and by embracing the positive contributions of our LGBTI+ community we can challenge the heteronormative attitudes which all too often colour our view.
“Our education priorities need to evolve to ensure Scotland is at the vanguard of the diverse attitudes in our ever-changing society.”
Quotes from Liam Stevenson, the other lead organiser of TIE campaign, human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar, Director of Common Weal Robin McAlpine, Solidarity Party Co-Convener Tommy Sheridan and other activists are below. CONTACT details for questions, more information and to arrange interviews:
Jordan Daly: email@example.com avail. any time after 12pm, 07919886625
Liam Stevenson: firstname.lastname@example.org avail. any time after 12pm, 07834686846
Liam Stevenson TIE Campaigner: “It has become very clear to me that there has to be a fundamental reform of our education curriculum – LGBTI+ issues must be addressed in the classroom, and support must be available for anyone struggling to accept themselves. Children should be taught that love comes in all shapes and sizes and love should be respected regardless of who shares it. Once we educate our children about the struggles and history of the LGBTI+ community we can unshackle society of transphobia, biphobia and homophobia very swiftly. Education is the key to building the inclusive society that I am determined to see in my lifetime.”
Jordan Daly TIE Campaigner: “It is one thing for a young kid to be struggling to accept themselves; it is another for them to feel trapped and excluded in an environment where they are supposed to feel safe and nurtured.
By refusing to acknowledge or teach LGBTI issues, what our schools are essentially doing is candidly ostracising LGBTI pupils. Education is the best tool to tackle homophobia in our schools. Perhaps if we made clear the struggle and difficulties that many brave LGBTI+ people faced when fighting for their rights, then kids would think twice before calling each other “faggots”.
Perhaps if we taught them that for every Martin Luther King, Rodney King and Rosa Parks there is a Harvey Milk, Matthew Shepard and Peter Staley – then maybe our youth would have more understanding and respect for a community that they otherwise only refer to when claiming that something is “so gay”.
Aamer Anwar, Human Rights Lawyer “Surely one of the most fundamental human rights must be the freedom to love who you want. For far too long LGBTI issues have been considered taboo but paid lip service to. When people are being murdered because of their sexuality or forced to live a lie for fear of attack, it is essential that our schools take the lead in exposing and tackling such discrimination.
For me there should be no hierarchies in the fight against discrimination, they are all equally valid. The key to creating a 21st Century Scotland society free from racism, sexism and homophobia is the education of our young people so I would urge everyone to sign this petition.”
Tommy Sheridan Co-Convener of Solidarity: “Across the world there is a growing understanding that love and understanding have to be the values that conquer hate and intolerance. This petition is vital because young people spend so much of their lives at school and often their lives are shaped by what they learn and witness. People are people, not straight, gay, black, white, Catholic, Protestant. We are all part of the one race, the human race. Lets promote more love and less hate.”
Robin McAlpine Director of Common Weal: “When I first met them I found the story of how Jordan and Liam came together to start this campaign one of the most inspiring to have emerged from the recent political awakening of Scotland. In particular I hope that the way that Liam, who had never had any connection with the LGBTI community, came to realise that this is a fight for all of us and not just for that community will make many other people realise that this is their fight too. I just hope that our politicians, influence leaders, the public and the media can show as much enlightenment and support this important initiative.”
Cat Boyd Scottish Left Project: “Education absolutely must be accessible to everyone. This campaign highlights the serious issues for LGBTQI young people in our institutions and I hope it is successful in changing the current trajectory.”
Jonathon Shafi co-founder Radical Independence Campaign: “This is a vital campaign, not just because of the high rates of homophobia in schools, but for our society as a whole. For the past few years, we have campaigned for a new Scotland – one that is inclusive, diverse and based on equality. That is why I am happy to be one of many supporting this important campaign.”
- To visit the facebook page for the campaign go here: https://www.facebook.com/tiecampaign
- The twitter is @TieCampaign and the hashtag is #TIE