Group set up to tackle homophobic bullying in schools

Improvement targeted after research shows 90 per cent of LGBT people experience prejudice at school

Emma Seith

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Educationalists and equalities experts will examine how schools can tackle homophobic bullying more effectively and improve the education experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans pupils in Scotland, the government has announced.

The setting up of a working group – chaired by the Association of Directors of Education (ADES) – was announced by the minister for higher and further education, Shirley-Anne Somerville, last night.

The announcement – which follows the passing of a motion at the SNP spring conference calling for such a group to be established – came during a Scottish parliament debate where it was highlighted that 90 per cent of LGBT people experienced prejudice at school.

'There may be more that can be done'

The same research – which surveyed 287 LGBT people and 479 teachers – found 27 per cent had attempted suicide as a result of bullying and 80 per cent of teachers felt they had not been adequately trained to tackle homophobia, bi-phobia and transphobia.

Ms Somerville said: “Our education system must support all Scotland’s young people to reach their full potential and we have listened carefully to concerns about the difficulties being faced by some young people in schools.

“While local authorities and schools are best-placed to decide how to deliver the curriculum based on local needs and circumstances, there may be more that can done to improve the education experience for LGBTI young people. That is what this working group will consider and we look forward to receiving its recommendations in due course.”

The Time for Inclusive Education (TIE) campaign, established by Jordan Daly and Liam Stevenson, has spent the last two years lobbying the government to introduce laws requiring schools to be “proactive in tackling homophobia, biphobia and transphobia” and deliver teacher training focusing specifically on LGBTI issues.

Mr Daly said the launch of the working group was “a significant step forward” and that he was looking forward to ensuring the support that existed for the TIE campaign translated “into real change at a national level”.

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Emma Seith

Emma Seith

Emma Seith is a reporter for TES Scotland

Find me on Twitter @Emma_Seith

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