Jamie Greene MSP: Schools inspectors should enforce inclusive education in Scots classrooms

West of Scotland Tory MSP Jamie Greene spoke exclusively to CommonSpace about the Tie campaign for inclusive education and the ‘Turing Law’ to be introduced by the Scottish Government

SCHOOLS INSPECTORS should be allowed to ask schools what action they are taking in delivering inclusive education in classrooms across Scotland, according to Tory MSP Jamie Greene.

West of Scotland MSP Jamie Greene, who supports more inclusive education in schools, said it should be up to both national and local government to cooperate and use their resources efficiently to achieve specific targets in making sure that LGBT+ issues are being taught in the classroom.

The Greenock-born MSP said: “We have a complex system of Scottish Government, health authorities, local government, schools themselves and individual teachers and school boards. Tie (Time for Inclusive Education) wants to see LGBTI education in schools, and no-one can deny that is a good thing.

“More importantly, though they are looking to help teachers, who ultimately have to deliver, monitor and keep their eyes open for problems in schools.

“For example, as a Scottish Conservative, I think school inspections should specifically ask about school action on LGBTI+ issues as opposed to simply broad equality matters.”

The pledge on school inspections was a manifesto commitment for the Scottish Tories at this year's Holyrood elections. It aimed to introduce a “dedicated reporting of LGBT incidents through SEEMiS”.

The Scottish Tories are also committed to developing a toolkit – in cooperation with the third sector – to help teachers who are unsure about how they would tackle homophobic and transphobic bullying within schools. 

“Above all of this, I think people don’t care who is delivering the [inclusive] education, as long as it gets done.” Jamie Greene MSP 

Councillors in Glasgow recently passed a motion to support Tie’s campaign for more inclusive education in schools across the city. The motion was tabled by SNP councillor Angus Millar, who welcomed the decision by the council to work with the Tie campaign in dealing with homophobia in schools across the city

Millar added: “We as a council must work with the Scottish Government, the Tie campaign and other partners to monitor homophobia in our schools, and ensure our teachers are supported to tackle this issue head on.”.

The Tie campaign is calling for a legal requirement for all schools to deliver and inclusive education programme across Scotland.

How the LGBT+ TIE campaign made Scotland sit up and take notice 

Greene, who supports Tie, said that the third sector and local authorities should be cooperating in improving the education for the LGBT+ community as it should be more of a journey than a destination.

He said:  “What we have right now in Scotland is a patchwork of initiatives across sectors from healthcare to employment.

“What’s needed is a fundamental change in mindset. Instead of treating the LGBTI+ community as legal and cultural exceptions to the norm, we need to work towards systems of law, education and public services that work for everyone by default.”

As an openly gay MSP, he said that he was surprised that there was not a cross-party group on LGBT+ in the Scottish Parliament. As a result, he has set up the group of which he is co-convening with Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale, Scottish Green co-convenor Patrick Harvie and SNP MSP Ben Macpherson.

“Instead of treating the LGBTI+ community as legal and cultural exceptions to the norm, we need to work towards systems of law, education and public services that work for everyone by default.” Jamie Greene MSP

With groups such as Stonewall Scotland, Equality Network, LGBT Youth Scotland, Pink Saltire and Fearless involved, the first meeting of the group will be on 14 December.

Greene said that the group would discuss a broad range of issues “from geriatric care for LGBTI+ people to helping employers become more LGBTI+ friendly, to teacher training, to funding for public healthcare campaigns, to bullying in schools”.

Meanwhile, Greene stated that he supports the recent announcement from Scottish Government Justice Secretary Michael Matherson to pardon gay and bisexual people historically convicted of offences.

He added that he welcomes moves “by both the UK and Scottish Governments on this issue, it is another small step on the journey towards greater equality on our shores”.

“The government disagreed with a private member’s bill introduced by John Nicolson because it could lead to some people being cleared of offences that are still crimes.” Jamie Greene MSP

But he was critical of the SNP’s John Nicolson, who tabled a Westminister’s private members bill that would have pardoned all men living with UK convictions on same-sex offences committed before the law was changed.

The bill was known as “Turing Bill”, named after wartime codebreaker Alan Turning, who committed suicide after his gross indecency conviction. 

With the UK government having its plans for posthumous pardons, the bill was “talked out”, with the result that it was dropped.

Greene said: “The government disagreed with a private member’s bill introduced by John Nicolson because it could lead to some people being cleared of offences that are still crimes.”

Picture courtesy of Jamie Greene

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