Campaigners call on Scottish Government to respect “human rights” of LGBT pupils

LGBT education campaign press for requirement for schools to teach inclusive education

CAMPAIGNERS fighting for LGBT+ inclusive education in Scottish schools have called on the Scottish Government to respect the “human rights” of pupils with mandatory changes to the way sexuality is taught.

Jordan Daly of the Time for Inclusive Education (Tie) campaign told the Scottish Parliament’s equalities and human rights committee, hearing evidence from campaigners on how to tackle bullying and harassment of pupils in school, that efforts to protect children from bullying, abuse, self-harm and suicide would be difficult because of there being no requirement for schools to provide an education inclusive of various sexualities and gender and sex identities.

He said: “We’ve faced issues in the past, we’ve been told ‘we [Scottish Government] don’t tell schools what to do or what to teach’.

“That’s not necessarily true. We tell schools about healthy lifestyles, healthy eating, we’ve got the Prevent agenda.

“So there are areas where a precedent has been set

“It could be argued that under the public sector duty, under the equality act this is a human rights issue and we should be prioritising human rights within our schools.”

The Scottish Government introduced relationships, sexual health & parenthood education (RSHP) in 2014, which does include some limited education on the range of human sexualities that exists throughout society. However, the curriculum exists for guidance and there is no requirement for schools to teach and LGBT+ inclusive education.

Short film charting the rise of the Tie campaign

The Scottish Government has previously argued that it is not it’s position to require schools to teach particular curricular items, an attitude the Tie campaign rejects.

The lack of required teaching on issues that affect LGBT+ young people means that it is possible for schools with a more progressive ethos to introduce inclusive education piecemeal but for other schools to hold back it’s roll-out across Scotland.

Daly said: “The fundamental point, really, is that there is no point embarking on a project of teacher training, of updating guidance, of spending a lot of money on this issue unless we are willing to address the fundamental issue that schools are not, as it currently stands, required to pick up on this.

“If you are an LGBT young person, it shouldn’t matter whether you go to this schools or that school.

“You should be able to access and education which is reflective of the issues affecting you and your identity, as is their right.”

The committee also heard from the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights, Inclusion Scotland, LGBT Youth Scotland, NSPCC Scotland/Childline Scotland, Rape Crisis Scotland, and Respect Me on matters pertaining to the abuse and bullying of children at school.

Polling by Tie in the summer of 2016 found that 90 per cent of LGBT+ people experience homophonic abuse while at school. 54 per cent of LGBT+ pupils in Scottish schools have self-harmed and 26 per cent have attempted suicide as a result of isolation and homophobic abuse.

Responding to the comments, a Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We have made absolutely clear the commitment of this government to promoting children’s health and well-being.  We want all children and young people to learn tolerance, respect, equality and good citizenship to address and prevent prejudice, as well as about healthy relationships. So we will continue to engage with Stonewall Scotland, LGBT Youth Scotland and the TIE campaign to ensure that schools address the important issues that LGBT young people face and ensure that teachers have the skills, knowledge and confidence to embed inclusive approaches in their schools. We want all schools to address the issues of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying and promote an inclusive approach to relationships, sexual health and parenthood education.”

Picture courtesy of Parliament TV

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