Scotland is set to become the first country in the world to introduce LGBTQ+ inclusive lessons into the school curriculum. In 2021, all public schools will teach lessons about the LGBTQ+ community such as same-sex marriage, same-sex parenting, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, and HIV/AIDS epidemic. “Scotland is already considered one of the most progressive countries in Europe for LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) equality,” said Deputy First Minister and Education Secretary John Swinney, “I am delighted to announce we will be the first country in the world to have LGBTI education embedded into our school curriculums.”
This proposal has been contemplated in the Scottish parliament since November 2018. Scottish ministers were open to this possibility in full and recognised the importance of such inclusion in enhancing learning environments for children. Scotland have continuously showcased their effort to prioritise progressive movements and put equality in their political agendas. Same-sex marriage has been legal in Scotland since 2014, same-sex civil partnership since 2005, and adoption and fostering by same-sex couples has been legal since 2009. Anti-discrimination laws on the basis of gender and sexuality have also been in place since 2010. This recent addition is momentous in standing in solidarity with the LGBTI community and students, making them feel safer and more accepted at school.
A survey conducted by Stonewall in 2019 found that 60% of British people believe that education about diverse families, such as those with same-sex parents, should be taught to children in school. Support is greater amongst young people aged 16-24, tallying 68% of people in agreement. “LGBT-inclusive education is life-changing teaching for so many young people, which is why it’s so powerful to see so much of the British public support the new legislation,” said Paul Twocock, Chief Executive at Stonewall. “We owe it to the next generation to ensure our schools are a place where all children and young people can be themselves.” Stonewall has been campaigning for almost 30 years in challenging Section 28, a piece of legislation that banned conversations about same-sex relationships and the ‘promotion of homosexuality’ in schools. Previous statistics gathered by Stonewall demonstrate that two in five (40%) LGBTQ pupils are never taught anything about LGBTQ issues, and almost half (45%) are bullied for being LGBTQ. Such educational revisions are life-changing for the younger generations’ personal development and attitudes towards these issues not just in their own country, but globally.
For young people to be fully prepared for adulthood, it is imperative that their school curriculum reflects the full diversity of the world they live in. Throughout the past decade, Britain has made great strides towards LGBT equality, however, anti-LGBT bullying and narratives remain popular at schools. Those who are opposed to this kind of education mainly argue that it is not an ‘age-appropriate’ subject for young students. The information will be catered to age groups, with gender identity and sexual orientation taught in secondary schools, both public and private. For primary school children, they will learn beyond the ‘nuclear family’ structure. The number of same-sex couple families has grown by more than 50% since 2015 in the U.K, with more than four times as many same-sex married-couple families in 2018 compared with 2015 – meaning that this kind of education is not only crucial, but timely.
The rest of the world should learn from Scotland. Inclusive education is an affirmation of existence. Building a more welcoming society requires building bridges between diverse groups. Teaching acceptance is an important first step in healing some of the divisions that we’ve witnessed throughout society over the past decade. Albeit, the procedure will undoubtedly be met with challenges, we must be vigilant and like Scotland, continue to path forward.