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Anti-sectarian youth project does not mince its words

A YOUTH project is tackling sectarianism by educating youngsters on bigoted language.

Staff at Aberlour Youthpoint in Glasgow are highlighting how the use of derogatory terms for Catholic and Protestants has been driven indoors as it becomes less socially acceptable to say them in public.

Youth workers David and Paul, who do not reveal their surnames to avoid any snap judgements about "which side they belong to", have developed a questionnaire for children that tests their use of sectarian names, how acceptable they think they are, how often they hear them and where. They have also asked parents to get involved.

Paul said: "In the past there have been moves to tackle the issues, but with a tendency to skirt around the language.

"Some people do not understand what sectarianism is, although they are familiar with and use these words. We need to connect the two in their mind.

"If you tell what you think is a "harmless" sectarian joke in your home and your child overhears it, they could go to school and repeat it and end up getting suspended."

The anti-sectarian workers have circulated 100 questionnaires to children in schools on the south side of Glasgow and also to their parents. All of the pupils have returned theirs, but only 12 parents have sent theirs back.

At a recent meeting organised to bring parents from a non-denominational school and a Catholic school together, only one set of parents turned up.

The younger generation is generally seen as key to stamping out bigotry, but some of the children David and Paul work with are already showing signs of having been influenced by others.

David said: "Colour is a big thing. On one side you have those who wear green and would never, ever, wear blue, and then you have the opposite. It's hardwired into them.

"We once had a seven-year-old girl refuse to use a piece of green card during one of our workshops."

Aberlour has been given funding by the Scottish Government to carry out the work until next year.

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