A grassroots campaign launched last year calling on the Scottish Government to create mandatory LGBT+ education in schools has had its petition rejected by parliament. Without prior warning, the public petitions committee decided to end its consideration of the Time for Inclusive Education Campaign (TIE) on grounds that it calls for the curriculum to be introduced as statutory, or compulsory.
When Qmunicate spoke to the activists behind TIE last summer, they were aware that this was going to be a difficult technicality to overcome.
However, ‘religious observance’ alone remains statutory in the Scottish curriculum. Without casting all religion in an inherently negative light, it can’t be ignored that extreme religious beliefs are sometimes a source of phobic prejudice in themselves. This raises uncomfortable questions for the priorities of our education system.
The focal point of the campaign is the need to tackle disproportionate rates of bullying, mental health issues, and suicide attempts in queer and trans youth. Achieving equality in wider society can begin in the classroom when marginalised children are not forced out of education, opportunities, and homes due to phobia.
In an official response to the committee’s decision, TIE make suggestions about how the current framework, defended by the government, could be improved. It targets the vague nature of Curriculum for Excellence guidelines:
“Whilst we do agree that the curriculum is flexible enough to allow for the teaching of LGBTI+ issues, we would like to highlight that it does not necessarily encourage teachers to do so and more is needed in this regard to signpost teachers towards where issues of equality should be taught… If the Scottish Government is truly focused on building a better, fairer Scotland that gets it right for every child – then, clearly, further action is required.”
Regardless of how the TIE campaign chooses to progress, it has attracted the attention and support of thousands, proving the need for its existence and success.
[Ellen MacAskill – @ejdmacaskill]