A GROUP of high-profile gay and lesbian Scottish politicians have stepped forward to back calls for LGBTI issues to be taught in all schools in order to tackle discrimination, bullying and homophobia.

The campaign for LGBTI education in Scottish schools - by the lobby group Time for Inclusive Education (TIE) - has sparked a mini culture war in Scotland which has played out in the pages of the Sunday Herald over recent weeks, with some religious figures vociferously opposed to the move.

Now prominent gay MPs and MSPs have stepped into the fray to voice their support, including Mhairi Black, Kezia Dugdale, Tory MSP Annie Wells, and Patrick Harvie. One gay politician expressly did not lend their support though - Ukip's David Coburn.

TIE wants LGBTI issues made part of the Scottish curriculum and has taken their fight to Holyrood, political party conferences and schools across the country.

The debate has been fierce with some describing it as Scotland’s 'new Section 28'. Religious figures opposed to the campaign say the idea is straying into the realms of indoctrination, while those in favour argue that it is no different to teaching children about racism and sectarianism.

TIE supporters say that without 'inclusive' education, LGBT youngsters are being bullied and in some cases the result is self harming and even suicide.

The Herald: SNP MP Mhairi Black says MPs in Westminster talk 'so much guff'

The SNP MP Mhairi Black said she never had to come out as her peers were already aware of her sexuality from a young age. However, other pupils in her Catholic secondary were bullied for their sexuality.

“People knew what I was like and they were too feart to ask me as they knew I'd go through them.

“I went to a Catholic school, it was quite intense – very much 'We don't think you're wrong, just what you do is wrong".

“I was lucky I had a supportive family and a brass neck, but for people who didn't have that it was very different. Other people in my class who were openly gay had a horrendous time. It was constant, incessant bullying every day of their lives.”

She compared LGBTI education to education about racism and sexism, adding: “[People who say it is] indoctrination..that's a lot of rubbish. Would it be indoctrination to tell kids that it's not okay to call somebody a 'Paki'? No. Homophobia needs to be in the same category. We've come on leaps and bounds but we're still not there yet.”

The Herald: Kezia Dugdale calls for House of Lords replacement to be based in Glasgow Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale was not openly gay while in school or university, and as a result, she says, she did not experience homophobia or bullying related to her sexuality. Despite this, she understands the need to address the problems affecting young people who are gay or transgender and facing discrimination.

Dugdale said: “We support TIE’s campaign and included a commitment to support it in our manifesto in May.

“If the Government brings forward proposals to make TIE’s campaign a reality, we will happily support them.

“Attitudes to LGBT people have changed so much since I was at school. In many ways, the state has been rushing to catch up with where society has changed.”

She said that Scotland now had the opportunity to "lead the way on inclusive education”, adding: “We already have so many positive role models for young LGBT people – the next step is to ensure that our schools reflect our society.”

The Herald: Single mum Annie Wells, from Springburn, is part of a new generation of Conservative women

Conservative MSP Annie Wells went back into the closet after telling her parents she was gay in her early teens.

To 'normalise' herself, she got married at 18 but seven years later her marriage ended as she could no longer cope with hiding her sexuality.

Wells said: “The TIE campaign is something I feel very passionately about. I came out when I was younger but it affected my mum so I just forgot about it. I put it on the back burner.

“I met a guy, got engaged at 18 and married at 20. Three years after that I couldn't do it any longer. It didn't feel like my life.”

When Wells confided in friends at her all girls secondary school, but was shunned by her peers. “People didn't want to be your pal. When I told them, they'd say 'Oh shit, I don't want you to try and kiss me or touch me".

“They didn't want me to get changed in the gym at the same time. I started thinking maybe there is something really weird about me.

“I met my husband when I was 16. We were pals and then he asked me to marry him. I thought it was the right thing to do, that would make me normal.”

At the Scottish Parliament, Wells said there “doesn't seem to be any progress” despite agreements from all parties in Holyrood that action is needed.

She added: “Teacher training needs to include LGBT education. Some teachers out there think they are not allowed to talk about it. It's about making people aware this isn't anything unusual, it's talking about respect and fairness.

“The Scottish Government have to tell local authorities that this has to work, and they will be held accountable.”

The Herald: Picture: COLIN TEMPLETON03/04/15 Green party MSP Patrick Harvie.Picture: COLIN TEMPLETON (41556838)

Patrick Harvie, co-convenor of the Scottish Green Party, said he put his bisexuality “on the back burner” until after his exams were finished in school.

He said: “I consciously pushed it to the back of my mind until I was leaving school. There was a lot of homophobic language and certainly one kid in my year who got pretty badly attacked for accusations of whether he fancied another boy.

“The atmosphere was one in which I don't think anybody would have felt safe to come out. You would never expect people to deal with it in a mature way. It would never have occurred to anyone.”

Harvie said the nationwide picture is still “very patchy”.

He said: “There are some schools which have made huge efforts to make sure their curriculum reflects equality and diversity in all aspects of society, but there are some schools in which bullying still happens.

“We need to be taking the good practice and applying it everywhere.

“There is a whole host of evidence that the effects of homophobia can last a lifetime. I don't think there would be many people who would agree that bullying and discrimination should be accepted. It's not enough to say 'bullying is bad' and then continue to promote the prejudice underlying that.”

The Herald: David Coburn have proved a controversial figure since being elected as an MEP for Scotland in 2014

David Coburn, gay UKIP MEP does not share the same view as his other LGBT colleagues and thinks “whatever people get up to in their boudoirs is nobody else's business.”

At school, the MEP was “too busy beasting round the rugby field” to think about his sexuality.

Coburn said: “We were kept busy – idle hands to do devil's work. I spent most of my time on the rugby field.

“I had homosexual instincts but I don't remember doing anything about them. I thought there were more important things to be worrying about. I didn’t go around saying 'I'm a homosexual'.”

Coburn said parents should be the ultimate decision-makers on what their children learn about, not the state.

He explained: “I'm not happy that the state should tell people how their children are brought up. I very much think its parents rights to bring up their own children.

“How much of this is getting into the realms of indoctrination? Nobody should be bullied, absolutely not, but do we want to be ramming all this down people's necks?

“The objective of school is teaching mathematics, history, science - its not there to be teaching sexual politics and gender.

“It's another example of people going too far. It's making a lot of parents feel uncomfortable."