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Historic announcement on LGBT inclusive education in Scotland

Today, Deputy First Minister John Swinney announced to the Scottish Parliament that Scotland is to become the first country in the world to have LGBTI-inclusive education embedded throughout the curriculum.

Over the last 18 months, Stonewall Scotland has been part of the Scottish Government’s LGBTI Inclusive Education Working Group, which was established to improve the school experience for LGBT young people and address bullying and discrimination.

The Scottish Government has accepted all 33 of the Working Group’s recommendations in full and intends to implement these reforms to practice and guidance, professional learning, inspections, and the recording of bullying incidents by 2021.

This is a culmination of the hard work of teachers, young people, parents and organisations such as LGBT Youth ScotlandTime for Inclusive Education (TIE), and Stonewall Scotland, who have campaigned for inclusive education for many years.

This is a milestone for the LGBT community.

When I first came out back in 2012, LGBT people were taboo in my school, and when LGBT issues were spoken about, this was only done in a negative way. At that point, today’s announcement seemed a lifetime away. For me, the memory of high school is still all too raw, and I have carried these experiences with me in to my adult life.

However, improvements have undoubtedly been made in recent years. Our 2017 research, School Report Scotland, showed that since 2012, LGBT young people are now less likely to be bullied at school for who they are, and are more likely to be taught about LGBT issues.

We know through our work with schools that there are many committed teachers in schools across Scotland taking steps towards a more inclusive education for our young people.

My experience is still all too familiar to many LGBT young people across Scotland.

But we also know that in schools like mine, there is still progress to be made. Sadly, my experience is still all too familiar to many LGBT young people across Scotland.

Our research last year found that half of LGBT young people – including seven in 10 trans young people – in Scotland are still bullied at school because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.  Alarmingly, one in four lesbian, gay and bi young people and two in five trans young people have tried to take their own life as a result. 

Moreover, two in five LGBT pupils have never been taught anything about LGBT issues in Scottish schools.

Schools will now be supported to teach young people about LGBT issues through age-appropriate lessons.

Teachers will have access to the resources and training they need to create more inclusive learning environments and better support LGBT students, and LGBT inclusion will be more effectively monitored by school inspections.

This will ... ultimately transform the lives of LGBT young people.

This will pave the way for transformative change in the Scottish education system and will ultimately transform the lives of LGBT young people.

I know my school experience would have been significantly different had these proposals been in effect at the time. Today’s announcement gives me hope for the next generation of LGBT young people in Scotland.

Stonewall Scotland will continue to work with the Scottish Government, Education Scotland and organisations such as Time for Inclusive Education and LGBT Youth Scotland on the implementation of these reforms which will transform the experience of LGBT young people in all Scottish schools for the better.

Read the full report.