Alyn Smith is right, set the bar higher for LGBT issues in schools – all schools. No exceptions.
We need to set the bar a bit higher on LGBTI issues. In all schools, no exceptions. –Alyn Smith MEP, SNP
In recent years the level of party discipline, ‘official line management’ and unity in the SNP has been frightening. Nothing captured this mood better than the new SNP party policy prohibiting elected MPs from dissenting from party policies.
But, in the race to become the new SNP deputy leader we have seen an interesting and praiseworthy development. A genuine disagreement within Nat ranks.
And it is a disagreement which is truly worth exploring, one close to my heart.
Alyn Smith MEP has come out in favour of heightened LGBT issues education in Scottish schools. Nothing controversial you say? Hold on a minute, he has rejected the notion that ‘religious schools’; in lieu of being religious; should get morality clause opt outs on the issue. Mr Smith argued with tremendous eloquence about the intrinsic need to set our goals higher on LGBT issues in schools. His ‘no iffs, no buts’ approach would be warmly welcomed by the legions of bullied, discriminated, abused LGBT kids the length and breadth of Scotland.
Before anyone thinks ‘Scotland doesn’t have a homophobia problem’ I would like to stop you right there. We do. Gay kids are more likely to commit suicide than straight kids. And is it any wonder? In our society ‘gay’ has become a synonym for negativity. Kids as young as primary school regularly say hideous stuff like “don’t be so gay” or “that is so gay”.
In our schools, in our day to day culture we have wilfully ignored the new trend where homosexuality as a concept has been associated with the uncool, the socially disdained or untoward. Couple this with the absence of any serious sex education tailored specifically for LGBT issues and the absence of LGBT history – is it any wonder?
I am 27, and I still recall the bullying I received. As childhood innocence receded, giving way to pubescence, suddenly I became the kid in the school playground who was just a little too effeminate.
Sure millennials are less inclined to discrimination than previous generations, but institutionally we continue to fail. Sexual education continues to brush past homosexuality, trans-sexuality and lesbianism. Barely reaching past generic “being gay is normal” and weak platitudes such as “bullying someone for being gay is wrong”.
What is lacking is a rigorous, truly nationwide approach to LGBT issues. Alyn Smith is correct when he says “There are, sadly, still people subjected to the ideology that says certain sexual orientations or gender identities are inherent moral defects.
“This just needs to stop, and while freedom of religion is important, if any organisation is providing a publicly funded service then that freedom is surpassed by a duty to equality and the law.”
And I for one would like to praise Mr Smith for saying to his party, and to the Catholic Observer that the day when LGBT issues in schools could be dismissed, overlooked, or treated with lip-service are over.
I may not be a big fan of curriculum for excellence, but if it can finally provide a national curriculum which promotes LGBT issues in all schools – he makes it more palatable for me.
In any enlightened society you promote a couple of basic concepts. First, all children are entitled to equal access to education. Second, all law abiding citizens should be equal under a common law. Thirdly, an individuals freedom does not grant them the right to deny or inhibit someone else’s. For those of us who are gay, lesbian or transgendered we have been denied these elements for too long. Alyn Smith is correct, time to up our educational game.
Religious conscience is important, but not if it means violating the rights of others. My rights under the law are not up for negotiation. Us gays are done letting the ‘conscience’ of religious groups leave us blind, stumbling in the dark. Our LGBT issues, are all of our issues if Scotland is to ever live up to the dream of being the enlightenment society.