A Catholic priest has become the first in Scotland to publicly supported the teaching of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues in schools.
Father Paul Morton, of Saint Bride’s Parish Church in Cambuslang, South Lanarkshire, is the first representative of the Catholic Church to support the campaign, joining other faith leaders including Reverend Kelvin Holdsworth of the Scottish Episcopal Church and Church of Scotland Minister John Nugent.
Father Morton is calling for prejudice based bullying and discrimination to be “a thing of the past” as he offers his support to LGBT young people.
He has endorsed the Time for Inclusive Education (TIE) campaign, which is working with the Scottish Government to introduce a programme of LGBT inclusive education into all Scottish schools as part of a new national approach to tackle high rates of homophobic and transphobic bullying.
The campaign published a report last year which revealed 90 per cent of LGBT people experience homophobia at school, while 27 per cent reported they had attempted suicide due to bullying.
“As a Catholic priest I have met many people who struggle with their sexuality, and I know the great harm that this has done in the lives of many men and women. I want this to be a thing of the past and I believe that this is the intention behind the TIE Campaign,’ Father Mason said.
“It is clear the TIE campaign is on the front-line of reaching out to young people in Scotland who are trying to understand both their sexuality and their identity. I cannot help but be impressed by both the clarity and vision that they have for their work. Most of all I want to give my unequivocal support to those who will benefit from it - a huge number of young people across the length and breadth of Scotland.
“In times gone by the Church was always a building which people went to for sanctuary - it is my hope that the Church can be that once again for LGBTI people.”
Welcoming the move Gerard Killen, Labour MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, said: “I warmly welcome these comments, which represent a very important step forward for the TIE campaign. Attitudes in society are changing and Father Morton joins teachers, trade unions, charities, and politicians from all parties in recognising the need for action when it comes to the challenges facing LGBT young people at school.”
The Scottish Government recently launched a national working group on TIE’s proposals after a majority of MSPs signed the campaign’s strategy pledge, which includes calls for teacher training and new legislation on the issue.
Jordan Daly of TIE said: “We are delighted and encouraged by Father Morton’s support for our campaign. This is culturally and historically significant, as his stance further highlights that having faith and supporting LGBT rights are not mutually exclusive nor controversial.”
A spokesman for the Diocese of Motherwell said: “Catholic schools work in partnership with parents, local authorities and other agencies to meet the needs of pupils and their families. All relationships within Catholic schools are founded on principles of mutual respect and, like all schools in Scotland, there is zero tolerance of discrimination of any kind.”