Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has stated that she will work with campaigners from TIE (Time for Inclusive Education) as she accepts that there is still “more to be done” to tackle homophobia in schools.
Sturgeon’s vow came as she set out her proposals to ensure that a “leap forward” is made for LGBT+ rights over the next Scottish parliament. At an LGBT+ hustings on Thursday evening (31/03), attended by all party leaders, Sturgeon praised the “impressive” work of TIE and urged whichever party forms the next Scottish government to work with the campaigners.
“At our conference, we had a moving debate and passed a motion in favour of inclusive education. I think what Time for Inclusive Education are doing is impressive and I hope that whoever forms the next Scottish Government will work with them, as we will.”
The move follows the unanimous passing of a motion in support of TIE by SNP members at the party’s spring conference earlier this month, which committed the SNP to creating an education system that is fully inclusive of LGBT+ identities and relationships within the next parliament, in order to promote a “safe, equal and accepting environment for all of Scotland’s young people”.
The topic of inclusive education has been propelled by TIE’s campaigners over the past year and Sturgeon’s support marks a significant turning point for the movement, coming just hours after the campaign argued that the SNP’s proposals for achieving LGBT+ inclusive education must go further.
Earlier in the evening, Sturgeon announced the SNP’s strategy, which included a focus on providing equality training for new, guidance and promoted teachers “so they are confident in tackling prejudice-based bullying”, and ensuring that “all children and young people learn tolerance, respect, human rights” to prevent prejudice and discrimination.
However, TIE’s campaigners argued that the strategy announcement did not go far enough, claiming that LGBT+ specific teacher training is required, stressing that “the next strategy to tackle homophobia has to be the right one”.
Commenting on the news of the First Minister’s support, a spokesperson for TIE stated:
“We are pleased that Nicola has agreed to work with us and we welcome her support. Her party’s current proposals do not go far enough and it is vital that the next strategy to tackle LGBT-phobia in Scottish schools is the right one – for too long we have dealt with a Section 28 hangover, the next Scottish Government must tackle this properly. We are happy to work with the SNP, and all other parties within the next parliament to ensure that our education system is inclusive of LGBT+ identities.”
All party leaders agreed with TIE’s calls for a commitment to improving accessibility to LGBT+ specific teacher training, with co-convener of the Scottish Green Party Patrick Harvie highlighting that faith schools must not be exempt from any strategy proposals.
Support for TIE’s movement for LGBT+ inclusive education has continued to grow, with Harry Potter actress Emma Thompson being the latest celebrity to endorse the campaign and call for an end to homophobia in Scottish schools.
Sturgeon later stated that:
“We must show leadership and courage in supporting LGBT+ equality. We have to have guts and lead by example.”