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Children’s commissioner backs call for LGBT+ education in schools

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Pressure mounts on the Scottish Government to commit to a new approach to tackling homophobic bullying

Scotland’s children’s commissioner has demanded more LGBT+ education in Scottish schools in a bid to tackle homophobic bullying.

Tam Baillie added his voice to the growing Time for Inclusive Education (TIE) campaign calling for the Scottish Government to introduce inclusive LGBT+ education in all schools in Scotland, and for teachers to be trained on how to tackle homophobia in the classroom.

Baillie, whose remit includes ensuring that children's rights are promoted, understood and respected, announced this weekend that he fully supports the campaign.

“Schools have a crucial role in developing our children and young people and it is time to tackle the discrimination of our LGBTI+ communities in school settings,” he added.

Tam Baillie

It is time to tackle the discrimination of our LGBTI+ communities in school settings

Tam Baillie

“This should be addressed by the Scottish Government and education providers to ensure we live up to our international rights obligations and to create school communities based on equality and respect for all."

A recent report, published by TIE, found that 90% of LGBT+ people experience homophobia while at school, with 27% of LGBT+ school pupils reporting that they had attempted suicide once as a result of bullying.

Campaigners are calling for new legislation in the lifetime of the current parliamentary term and have won cross party support for it as well as other high profile endorsements.

A TIE spokesperson said: "All children have a right to an inclusive education but, currently, many LGBTI learners in Scotland are not receiving any form of education which is reflective of their identity or the issues affecting them.

“We are clear that this must be addressed, and we believe that all schools should be inclusive environments for LGBTI youth.

“To that end, we are delighted that the children and young people's commissioner has supported our campaign and we hope that this will influence our decision makers to take more affirmative steps towards addressing the culture of silence around LGBTI within education."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "While Scotland does not have a statutory curriculum, relationships, sexual health and parenthood education is an integral part of the health and wellbeing area of the curriculum in Scotland and this includes issues relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex young people or children with LGBTI parents."

She added all schools and local authorities in Scotland should have anti-bullying policies in place and that an updated anti-bullying strategy is due to be published to ensure that bullying of all kinds, including prejudice-based, is recorded accurately and monitored effectively.