Triumph for grassroots activism as Scotland adopts world leading LGBTI inclusive education

Ben Wray

All Scotland’s state schools to be covered by new regulations including teaching, training and monitoring

SCOTTISH Education Minister John Swinney has accepted the recommendations of campaigners for the introduction of LGBTI inclusive education in all of Scotland’s state funded schools.

The measures announced in the depute first minister’s speech in parliament (8 November) represent the triumph of efforts by the Time for Inclusive Education (Tie) campaign over more than three years of campaigning for changes to school education to undercut endemic bullying, isolation and abuse faced by LGBTI young people in Scotland.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Swinney said: “Scotland is already considered one of the most progressive countries in Europe for LGBTI equality. I am delighted to announce we will be the first country in the world to have LGBTI inclusive education embedded within the curriculum.

“Our education system must support everyone to reach their full potential. That is why it is vital the curriculum is as diverse as the young people who learn in our schools.

“The recommendations I have accepted will not only improve the learning experience of our LGBTI young people, they will also support all learners to celebrate their differences, promote understanding and encourage inclusion.”

Analysis: The TIE campaign’s success is a template for grassroots activism

The recommendations are the product of the LGBTI Inclusive Education Working Group, which includes the Tie Campaign, Scottish Government, Scottish Trans Alliance, LGBT Youth Scotland, the EIS teachers’ Union, the National Parent Forum of Scotland and Cosla among others, and mean that:

– The most concentrated changes will be to Relationships, Sexual Health, and Parenthood Education in Schools (or Personal and Social Education), where students will be taught about the range of sexual and gender identities in society, the lived reality and relationships of LGBTI people, the nature of the bigotry faced by the LGBTI community and the history of the social movements advocating equality.

– This will be complemented by a toolkit to tackle homophobic bullying at a “whole school level”.

– New training and resources for teachers, both at the beginning of their careers and continuously over its duration.

– A new regime of monitoring and school inspections, in order to assess the impact of the new inclusive education measures and the consistency of their implementation.

The demands represent a huge leap forward for the Tie Campaign, who’s petition to the Scottish Parliament was rejected in 2015, but who went on to create a nation wide consensus for the changes through teacher training, union solidarity, protests, lobbying and speaking with school students the length and breadth of Scotland.

Tie Campaign co-founder Jordan Daly said: “After three years of campaigning, we are delighted that LGBT-inclusive education will now become a reality in all of Scotland’s state schools.

“This means that all young people will learn about the LGBT community; their contributions to our society, the history of our equal rights movements, and the impact of homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic prejudice and bullying.

“The implementation of LGBT-inclusive education across all state schools is a world first, and in a time of global uncertainty, this sends a strong and clear message to LGBT young people that they are valued here in Scotland.




“Eighteen years from the repeal of Section 28, we can finally put it’s destructive legacy to bed.

“This is a monumental victory for our campaign, and a historic moment which proves that grassroots activism can have lasting change.

“Education is one the most vital tools we have to tackle bullying, prejudice, and discrimination – and it shapes the fabric of our society. We now look forward to continuing our work with the Scottish Government as we progress towards full implementation.”

The campaign has gained world wide recognition, with imitators in several countries from Wales to the United States, and it’s campaigners have addressed the UN and its attempts to tackle LGBTI discrimination.

Welcoming the latest development, actor Emma Thompson said: “Congratulations to TIE for bringing LGBT inclusive education to Scottish schools – this is a wonderful step forward in the quest for LGBT equality.

“When young people are free to be their genuine selves then they can live happy and fulfilled lives.

“With LGBT inclusive education in all of Scotland’s schools, LGBT young people can build confidence and self esteem, and learn that they are part of a vibrant and beautiful community.”

Fergus McMillan, Chief Executive of LGBT Youth Scotland said: “LGBT Youth Scotland warmly welcomes the recommendations of the LGBTI Inclusive Education Working Group. The group has worked hard to reflect the needs and experiences of LGBTI learners in Scottish schools. The recommendations and their implementation is an excellent opportunity for Scotland to build on emerging good practice, to ensure that Scotland is the best place for LGBTI young people to grow up and reach their full potential.”

Picture: CommonSpace