Time for Inclusive Education

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By Liam Stevenson, TIE campaign co-founder. Article originally published in the Spring 2017 version of Humanitie

Throughout the lifetime of the TIE Campaign, Jordan Daly and myself have always tried to be dynamic when it comes to our strategy. We’ve tried the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee and we’ve had manifesto commitments from every mainstream political party during the recent parliamentary elections.

But strategies like our petition can fail on technicalities, and manifesto commitments can be washed away by the next rain shower – such is the nature of party politics. As campaigners, it’s your job not to become too disheartened, too down or even frustrated – you need to have a plan for each and every outcome.

When we are dealing with an issue as serious as ours; where young people are struggling, self harming and even taking their own lives – we became acutely aware that those people rely on us, that they need us to be successful. They need TIE to win.

With this in mind, we realised that the words of support from MPs and MSPs – both publicly and privately – had to be translated into something tangible, something that we could hold up, something that would lead to action and, ultimately, change.

LiamStevenson

 

We decided that we’d create a campaign pledge, but not a fluffy “I will do X and Y but ultimately change nothing” pledge. Ours would commit the signatories to action, and it would call for specific things: very doable, pragmatic things that can easily become a reality.

So, we launched the TIE pledge (www.tiepledge.co.uk) outlining our five strategic proposals. Our pledge is bold – but not radical. All we are asking is that our LGBTI learners are treated the same way as any other protected characteristic pupils are, and that all schools must recognise – and celebrate – their history and their existence.

On the 23rd of February this year, we managed to lobby a majority of Parliamentarians in the Scottish Parliament – who have now signed our pledge, making Scotland’s the first parliament in the world to indicate majority support for LGBTI inclusive education.

While this should be recognised as an achievement, at this stage is still only a symbolic one.

This does, however, give the various Committees that we are working with in Holyrood the confidence to move forward with our proposals. It also opens various options for us as campaigners.

So, we now look forward to seeing which avenue is the best one for us to advance our campaign, and we feel very confident that our calls will be answered; that both TIE and the Scottish parliament, working together, will create history. In turn, we will change the lives of LGBTI learners forever.

The TIE Pledge

  • Curricular Inclusion: LGBTI inclusion in individual subject areas, achieved via approved curriculum mapping guidance as well as mandated LGBTI inclusive Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood (RSHP) education. Such materials should be accessible for all schools, with a clear requirement of uptake.
  • Recording of Bullying: All local authorities should record specific incidents of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools – in accordance with existing guidance and expectations for the recording of bullying concerning other protected characteristics such as race.
  • Teacher Training: The delivery of a teacher training programme which is free at the point of access and focuses specifically on LGBTI issues, for teachers who are currently serving and student trainee teachers.
  • Legislation: New legislation in the lifetime of this current parliamentary term, which outlines a requirement for all schools to be proactive in tackling homophobia, biphobia and transphobia through an inclusive educational approach.
  • Monitoring: Monitor any steps that are taken with regards to LGBTI inclusivity in schools. This should include the collection of data at local authority level, as well as the addition of a specific LGBTI indicator in the Education Scotland school inspections process.

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