Scotland becomes first country to back teaching LGBTI issues in schools

Scotland is set to become the first country in the world to include LGBTI issues in school curricula, after the government accepted in full recommendations made by a leading campaign group.

Scottish Deputy First Minister John Swinney said Thursday that state schools across Scotland will be required to educate pupils on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex issues, including LGBTI history, terminology and identities, and ways of tackling homophobia and prejudice.

Other recommendations include providing free training programs for teachers and offering new teaching materials to tackle LGBTI issues.

“Our education system must support everyone to reach their full potential,” Swinney said. “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.”

The Scottish government’s move comes after the LGBTI Inclusive Education working group — led by the Time for Inclusive Education (TIE) campaign — published a report outlining 33 recommendations on how to tackle LGBTI bullying in schools.

TIE co-founder Jordan Daly described the Scottish government’s decision to adopt these recommendations in full as a “monumental victory.”

He added that the “destructive legacy” of section 28 — legislation that prevented local authorities from “promoting” homosexuality, until it was repealed in 2001 — had finally ended.

“The implementation of LGBTI 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 LGBTI young people that they are valued here in Scotland,” Daly said.

A study conducted by TIE found that nine out of 10 LGBTI students in Scotland experience homophobia and bullying at school.

These findings were echoed by a 2017 Stonewall Scotland school report, which found that 63% of young people in Scotland suffer homophobic slurs “regularly” or “often,” compared with 50% in the rest of the UK.

Scotland has nevertheless regularly been ranked one of the leading countries in Europe for LGBTI legal rights, with human rights association ILGA-Europe revealing that Scotland regularly ranks higher than England and Northern Ireland.

In a tweet, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon expressed hope that the move would lead to a more inclusive education system.

While there is no official time frame yet for introducing the curriculum changes, Swinney said in the Scottish Parliament Thursday that the government was serious about making sure they happened “as quickly as possible.”

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