On LGBT education: why Scotland still needs to do more
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On LGBT education: why Scotland still needs to do more

Stonewall Scotland's CPD-accredited Children and Young People Conference returns this year to Glasgow on Wednesday 22 May.

Teachers, education professionals and organisations providing services for children and young people will come together to discuss how to tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying and celebrate difference.

In the backdrop of recent debates on LGBT inclusive education in schools, this year’s conference is more important than ever.

Some people may ask why this is still necessary, after all, we’ve made a huge amount of progress in recent years. But unfortunately, there' still work to be done to make sure all LGBT children and young people are able to be themselves at school, without fear of bullying and discrimination – I know that from my own experience of school, as recently as 2014.

Like many LGBT young people, I experienced bullying as a young gay person. If I’m being honest, I was a pretty easy target, fitting a lot of the stereotypes of being gay that other kids just love to make fun of. I was effeminate, terrible at sports and very sensitive – and that’s before we even get to the passion I developed for musical theatre songs.

As a result, I was made fun of, intimidated, and taunted on an almost daily basis. Other pupils accused me of being gay to insult me before I even knew for myself what it was that made me different. When I wasn’t being actively bullied, I was often isolated and lonely, and this was my experience for most of my time at high school.

There is still work to be done to make sure LGBT children and young people are able to be themselves.

Sadly, my experience is far from unique. According to Stonewall Scotland’s 2017 School Report, half of all lesbian, gay, bi and trans young people (48 per cent) are bullied for being LGBT at school, including 71 per cent of trans young people. However, making sure LGBT young people feel safe and comfortable at school is not just about tackling bullying. 

Teachers need to be aware of LGBT issues and understand how they can create a more inclusive environment for all young people. During my years at school, I don’t remember teachers being actively homophobic, biphobic or transphobic, but at the same time, I don’t feel there was a lot done to make 14-year old closeted pupils like me feel welcomed. If LGBT issues were mentioned, teachers usually didn’t have the knowledge or experience to speak competently.

By attending the Children and Young People Conference, teachers and other professionals will be able to learn the best ways to make all environments fully inclusive of LGBT children and young people. 

A range of workshops and panel discussions will address how schools and organisations can offer the best delivery and leadership possible for LGBT children and young people to thrive. Delegates will be able to find out how to most effectively create a trans inclusive school, and how to ensure sports and adventurous activities – often some of the least friendly to LGBT people – can be more welcoming environments.

Know someone who might be interested? Take advantage of our Spring Savings Spectacular and book now for up to 50% off. But hurry, offer ends May 6th!