After a decision that Scotland’s education system will become the first in the world to have LGBTI education embedded in the curriculum, Cara Spence of LGBT Youth Scotland says she is truly hopeful that no young person will have to grow up in a school where they do not feel safe and included.
We began working in schools more than 10 years ago. At the time, our work was viewed as ‘controversial’ and just a handful of pro-active teachers were keen to engage with us.
I remember when we delivered a stall at a school health fair, halfway through the event the headmaster promptly frog-marched us out of the building – presumably because he thought we were negatively influencing innocent minds and ‘making young people gay’ (which would now be widely recognised as absurd).
Fast forward a few years and we’re in parliament, with young people, and the Deputy First Minister announces that the Scottish Government has officially agreed with the recommendations that we’ve worked on – some of which we have been calling for more than a decade.
This means improved training for teachers, guidance documents to support practice and a call for local authorities to deliver work in this area.
If properly implemented, this could have a significant impact on the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people, their peers, families and even future generations.
Young people have consistently told us that education is the area where they experience the most discrimination and LGBT young people continue to bullied – simply for being who they are.
Importantly, evidence shows us that transgender young people are having the toughest time in school and teachers lack the confidence to support them effectively.
Through programmes like our Schools Charter we have the pleasure of seeing schools that seek to be inclusive, with inspiring teachers and young people who are delivering work that brings a tear to your eye.
What we need is improved consistency; no young person should grow up in a school where they do not feel safe and included.
With this new announcement, we are truly hopeful that this vision can be realised.
Cara Spence is a member of the leadership team at LGBT Youth Scotland