Campaigners urge MSPs to help tackle homophobia in schools
Time for Inclusive Education (TIE) is calling for action on LGBT education to address bullying.
MSPs are being urged to help tackle homophobia in schools by backing LGBT education.
Time for Inclusive Education (TIE) is calling on politicians and members of the public to sign up to a five-point online pledge supporting a fresh national strategy to address homophobic bullying.
Among the campaigners' proposals is new legislation for LGBT inclusive education in all schools, teacher training and the recording of all incidents of homophobic, biphobic or transphobic bullying by local authorities.
The calls come following research by TIE, published earlier this month, which suggested 90% of LGBT pupils had experienced homophobia in school and that 42% had attempted suicide as a result of bullying.
The survey also found that only 4% of LGBT respondents feel the Scottish Government is presently doing enough to tackle homophobia in schools.
TIE has secured cross-party support for its aim of introducing LGBT inclusive education but say it is now "time to take action".
A campaign spokesperson said: "Our aim is to ensure that all schools across the country are safe and supportive environments for LGBT young people, and we have very clear proposals as to how we get there.
"We would urge members of the public and all MSPs who agree with us that it is time to take action against homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools to sign our pledge and show that they are committed to addressing the issues facing LGBT learners during this term of parliament.
"We are encouraged by the support that our campaign has generated over the last year, but it is now time for action. The Scottish Government's current strategy in this area is patchy and ineffective, and this has to be addressed with an open mind if we are to see any meaningful change."
Scottish Labour inequalities spokeswoman Monica Lennon MSP said: "I've been increasingly impressed by the TIE campaign's drive to improve Scotland's education system and I have been a supporter of their aims from the outset.
"Recent research by the campaign has shown that two thirds of current and former pupils surveyed indicated that homophobia, biphobia and transphobia are a problem in schools, proving that there is a real need for a rollout of inclusive education in classrooms across the country.
"I'll certainly be signing the pledge and I hope that many more will also agree that the Scottish Government must do more to tackle inequality in schools."
SNP depute leadership contender Tommy Sheppard MP commented: "I'm very pleased to support TIE's campaign for inclusion in all our schools. We've come a long way but there's a long way still to go.
"Everyone should feel confident in being able to be themselves without fear of being bullied or put down because of their sexuality or gender identity."
Conservative MSP Ross Thomson said: "Although Scotland has made great progress in promoting LGBTI+ rights there is still so much more that we need to do.
"I'm backing the TIE campaign's efforts to tackle homophobia in our schools. We need to stand up to the bullies and empower our teachers and young people to tackle bullying, harassment and abuse head on.
"We can't just stand by and hope that homophobia will go away. If we educate we'll liberate."
Campaigners from TIE are planning to meet with education secretary John Swinney soon to discuss their proposals.
TIE has received support over the past year from a long list of celebrities and public figures, including SNP MP Mhairi Black, gay rights activist Peter Tatchell and actress Emma Thompson.