Scotland is the first country in the world to make an LGBTQ-inclusive education mandatory in schools.
Following recommendations from the Time for Inclusive Education (TIE) campaign, Deputy First Minister John Swinney confirmed this week that all primary and secondary state schools will now be required to teach students about various LGBTQ issues, the Scotsman reports.
This new education initiative, which will be introduced in conjunction with the Scottish government’s Curriculum for Excellence, will begin immediately.
Swinney explains that educators will teach LGBTQ topics including identities, terminology, prejudice, and the history of the LGBTQ rights movement.
The LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum will be taught across all age groups, but a government spokesman clarifies it is “for schools to decide how they deliver education, based on the needs of the children or young people.”
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) November 8, 2018
The government will fund special training for teachers and ensure all schools have “appropriate” resources for the LGBTQ-focused lessons. TIE research previously indicated that four out of five Scottish teachers do not feel adequately trained to tackle anti-LGBTQ bigotry in the classroom.
“This is a monumental victory for our campaign and a historic moment for our country,” says TIE co-founder Jordan Daly, adding that the education initiative “sends a strong and clear message to LGBTI young people that they are valued here in Scotland.”
Some religious leaders, including Christian Institute deputy director Simon Calvert, have expressed concerns about the initiative.
“Parents, pupils, and teachers expect schools to do all they can to stop bullying of any kind,” Calvert says. “But they don’t want to see controversial political agendas embedded across the curriculum. Maths lessons should be about maths, not LGBT politics.”
“What this means is that children from families who do not share this commitment to radical LGBT politics will be made to feel isolated in their schools,” he continues. “LGBT activists are often highly intolerant of traditional religious views and the people who hold them.”
“Human rights and the values of respect and tolerance are universal,” Swinney counters. “Children and young people should feel happy, safe, respected and included in their learning environment, and all staff should be proactive in promoting positive relationships and behaviour in the playground, classroom, and society.”
After the country legalized same-sex marriage in 2014, GLA-Europe named Scotland the best country on the continent for LGBTQ residents in 2015.
Scottish lawmakers also voted this year to pass the Historical Sexual Offenses (Pardons and Disregards) Bill, which automatically pardons anyone convicted before consensual same-sex sexual activity was decriminalized in 1981, 14 years after it was decriminalized in England and Wales.