A campaign co-founded by a Glasgow University student have taken their petition for improvements to be made to tackle LGBTI+ bullying in Scottish schools in front of the Scottish Parliament. Jordan Daly, a third year Sociology student, started the TIE (Time for Inclusive Education) campaign with his friend Liam Stevenson to address discriminatory practices in schools and promote teacher training in order to combat bullying based upon sexual orientation or gender identity. Last week, TIE took their petition to Holyrood, where a committee of crossbench MSPs heard evidence on the matter.
Jordan told The Glasgow Guardian: “We have one very simple aim: to ensure that all schools in Scotland are offering an LGBTI+ inclusive education and learning experience for their pupils. It is the responsibility of our schools and the teaching staff within them to ensure that every pupil has an equal opportunity to achieve a high quality education, and feel supported and encouraged whilst doing so. Currently, a section of our youth are being denied this right, and we are committed to addressing this.”
Jordan believes that combating discrimination from a young age is key to combating discrimination in the long-run, commenting: “Section 28 was repealed fifteen years ago, yet many of our schools are still not teaching about topics and issues relating to the LGBTI+ community. LGBTI-phobia remains a massive issue in our schools. 26% (1 in 4) of LGBTI+ youth are attempting suicide as a result of homophobic bullying; 99% hear phrases such as “that’s so gay” on a daily basis and, as a result, 54% do not feel part of their school communities. We believe that this is an issue often overlooked, and it has to be tackled – with a governmental commitment – imminently. We cannot address LGBTI-phobia without seriously reconsidering the situation in our schools: if we can ensure that youth across the country are taught to treat others with compassion and kindness regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, then we can make track in achieving the fairer, truly equal society that many of us envision.”
The committee, which included Michael McMahon and Hanzala Malik of the Labour Party, David Torrance, Angus MacDonald and Kenny MacAskill of the SNP, Jackson Carlaw of the Scottish Conservatives, and independent MSP John Wilson, were, according to Jordan, receptive to the proposals, “It went far better than I could have expected. After an hour-long presentation, the MSPs unanimously supported our aims, and expressed their serious concern at the extent of the issues within the education sector. They have committed to writing to the Scottish Government, urging them to take this seriously and set out to tackle this, and they are writing to all relevant teaching institutions, the EIS, local authorities and Stonewall Scotland to seek further consultation. It is the best result that we could have hoped for at this stage. We will be keeping the pressure on this, and seek to be consulting the Government and relevant ministers on how to address the issues that we have raised throughout the campaign. There is a long way yet to go, but this is a huge first step.”