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Why this major new subject on the Scottish curriculum will change lives

Posted by
Susan Devaney
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Scotland’s new LGBTI-inclusive history curriculum is the first of its kind in the world. 

Earlier this year, Scotland became the first country in the world to offer women free sanitary products throughout schools, universities and colleges.

Now, the small country has marked another historic milestone after Education Secretary John Swinney announced it will be embedding LGBTI education in its curriculum.

The move comes after ministers accepted the recommendations of a working group led by the Time for Inclusive Education (TIE) campaign.

“This is a monumental victory for our campaign, and a historic moment for our country,” said Jordan Daly, the co-founder of TIE. “The implementation of LGBTI inclusive education across all state schools is a world first. In a time of global uncertainty, this sends a strong and clear message to LGBTI young people that they are valued here in Scotland.”

A study for TIE found that nine in 10 LGBTI Scots experience homophobia at school, and 27% reported they had attempted suicide after being bullied. Additionally, the study found a lack of understanding in schools toward people with variations of sex characteristics and intersex bodies.

“Scotland is already a world leader when it comes to legislation on equality and embedding LGBTI inclusive education into mainstream curriculum cements our position,” Angela Crawley MP told Stylist.co.uk. “The implementation of inclusive education across all state schools sends a strong message that LGBTI young people are valued in Scotland.

“The proposal will not only improve the experiences of those who identify as LGBTI during their school years, but it will also allow pupils to celebrate their differences, promote understanding and encourage inclusion.”

How will it work and why is it needed?

According to the Scottish government, all state schools will have to teach LGBTI inclusion and equality across various subjects and age groups – including LGBTI terminology and identities, and being able to recognise homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.

What campaigners are keen to achieve is for young people to be able to see themselves, and feel included, in everyday lessons.

What campaigners are keen to achieve is for young people to be able to see themselves, and feel included, in everyday lessons. With this in mind, they have suggested having students learn about people like Alan Turning (WW2 codebreaker) and Edwin Morgan (the Scots poet who revealed he was gay on his 70th birthday). Additionally, they think that the Stonewall riots in 1969 (which led to the birth of gay rights) should also be included in the school curriculum.

Campaigners have also said the change truly marks the end of section 28. The legislation, introduced in 1988, banned local authorities in the UK from ‘promoting’ homosexuality, until Scotland repealed it in 2001. 

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What has the reaction been like so far?      

Many people – including tennis champion Billie Jean King – have taken to Twitter to share the news. 

Let’s hope other countries around the world follow Scotland’s lead.

Images: Unsplash     

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Susan Devaney

Susan Devaney is a digital journalist for Stylist.co.uk, writing about fashion, beauty, travel, feminism, and everything else in-between.

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