Over two-thirds of teachers have had no recent training on LGBT+ issues, according to a survey, with teachers reporting that, as a result, discrimination often goes unchallenged in schools.
Of the 300-plus teachers who took part in a survey last year – carried out by a teaching union and released by the Scottish government after a request under freedom of information legislation – 70 per cent said they had received no training in LGBT+ issues in the past five years.
Primary staff reported having less training than secondary, and almost half of primary teachers said they did not know how often training was offered. A report on the survey findings said it was “concerning that primary colleagues appear to lack information on training provision”.
Overall, a quarter of respondents said training was never offered by their local authority, with fewer than one in 10 saying it was offered regularly.
Only a fifth of those who had received training reported that it had covered strategies for challenging transphobia, with similar responses related to bi-phobia.
Tes Scotland reported last week on the government’s plans that LGBTI-inclusive education should be embedded across the curriculum – an announcement that made headlines across the world in November. However, these figures suggest a long road lies ahead when it comes to equipping teachers to deal with these new responsibilities.
One teacher commented in the survey: “There is a real lack of awareness that results in teachers not being able to challenge and deal with LGBTI discrimination, pupils often report it goes unchallenged.”
Another said that in their authority they were not aware of any training, “but we deal with LGBT issues often, within teaching, so it is desperately needed”.
'Cover crisis' impacts training
Last year, LGBT Youth Scotland published a survey of more than 650 LGBTI young people aged 13-25: almost half rated their school experience as bad.
The EIS teaching union, which carried out the survey in 2018, called for LGBT+ professional learning to be enhanced pointing out that schools needed to be “safe, discrimination-free environments”. However, it also suggested that the opportunities are there but teachers are being prevented from accessing them due to “workload issues and the cover crisis”.
The report also said “more training on LGBT+ specific matters as they affect teaching staff would be valuable”.
It added: “Training appears to have a focus on supporting LGBT+ learners, but supporting LGBT+ staff is more rarely discussed. Prejudice is still experienced by LGBT+ people working in the education sector, despite many initiatives to address it, and the EIS position is that efforts should be made to ensure that learning environments are safe and inclusive for both learners and staff.”
Education secretary John Swinney announced in November that all schools would be expected to embed the teaching of LGBT+ terminology and identities; tackling homophobia, biphobia and transphobia; prejudice in relation to the LGBTI community; and the history of LGBTI movements in the curriculum.
The government had accepted all 30-plus recommendations of its LGBTI working group.
That means the obligation will be monitored by school inspectors, but also that a basic new LGBTI inclusion training course should be funded for teachers and made available nationally by 2020.