MORE than three quarters of Scots pupils who’ve attended LGBT inclusive assemblies in schools stopped using homophobic language as a direct result, new research has revealed.

Nearly all pupils, 96 per cent, said the events in schools had made them more aware of the impact of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying and attitudes on others, while 92 per cent said they’d since reflected on their own use of language.

Furthermore, of those pupils who said they previously held negative views towards the LGBT community, 86 per cent said their attitudes had changed positively after attending the assemblies.

The figures came from a survey conducted by the TIE Campaign, which is currently lobbying the Scottish Government to introduce statutory LGBT inclusive education across all schools in Scotland. While its parliamentary work has been going on, the group has been conducting assemblies on an invitation basis, across Scotland, in efforts to tackle the use of homophobic language in schools, reduce bullying and offer young people more information.

Recently, TIE has been collecting data from schools in a developing international research partnership with Purdue University in Indiana, USA, and the latest figures are based on a random sample of 1004 pupils from various schools across the country following participation in TIE’s LGBT awareness assemblies.

Liam Stevenson, TIE Campaign co-founder, said: "This new data confirms that more and more young people are reflecting on their attitudes, their use of language, and their behaviour with regards to homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia.

"For us, this further proves that LGBT inclusive lessons, workshops, and classroom discussions are the remedy to a long lasting culture of silence regarding the LGBT community in our schools.

"Our services last one hour - imagine what will be achieved with LGBT history and culture embedded across the curriculum and a whole school approach towards inclusion and equality?"

The news comes after MSPs celebrated the third anniversary of the campaign on Thursday, just before parliamentary recess began. MSPs, including Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie and Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard, wore rainbow coloured ties – the campaign’s emblem – as a show of support, while First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wore a campaign badge.

Sturgeon said: “The Scottish Government is working with TIE to, and I’m quoting, ‘promote an inclusive approach to sex and relationships education’. This work is being done through the LGBTI inclusive education working group. That working group is chaired by the Association of Directors of Education.

“It includes representation from the Scottish Transgender Alliance, LGBT Youth Scotland and Stonewall Scotland, and recommendations from the working group are expected in autumn of this year. At that point I’m sure everybody across the chamber will have an interest – I know the Government, and me as First Minister, will have an interest – in making sure that these recommendations are implemented as quickly as possible.”

The TIE Campaign, co-founded by Stevenson and Jordan Daly, hopes to tackle homophobic bullying in schools by weaving LGBT education into the schools curriculum. Previous research carried out by the group revealed that nine out of 10 LGBT people had experienced homophobia, biphobia or transphobia at school, and more than a quarter had attempted suicide at least once as a result. Eighty per cent of teachers felt they had not been adequately trained in how to deal with the issues.

TIE is working with the Scottish Government on developing its proposals, and Daly and Stevenson believe they are close to seeing their aims come to fruition.


Chloe Divers, guidance teacher at Brannock High School, Motherwell

When the TIE Campaign tweeted about a training session for teachers I went along and absolutely loved it. Jordan and Liam [TIE Campaign co-founders] were there, and I asked them to come into the school and do assemblies for us. Everything took off from there.

We started an LGBT Alliance group in the school, which lots of kids got involved in. It was only once a week, on a Friday lunch time, but at one point I was having up to 70 kids in my classroom – not all LGBT, a lot them allies as well. There was obviously a real appetite in the school and kids were interested.

Then we had the TIE Campaign come in and hold some whole school assemblies. They were really strong at putting across the message. It was interesting because we found the lower year groups, the first and second years, were really open to it. The seniors were more closed to it but then really opened up after we’d had the TIE Campaign in. Jordan was so honest when talking about his journey. I really noticed there was a significant change in the student body.

From then, we put it out to the pupils, the student council, to find out what they wanted to be taught. We started to get feedback on things like sexual health; we had one boy saying that pupils get taught about safe sex, but that it was very male-female dominated and they weren’t taught about safe sex within same-sex relationships.

We’ve since been on our LGBT charter award journey with LGBT Youth Scotland and we’ve just received silver status on that which we’re delighted about. We’ve had a very quick year in this school – we only started this in August and I would say there’s been a real shift in the mindset of the school, and it’s not just the students, it’s the teachers as well.

We found after the assemblies that a lot of teachers were saying how fantastic it was that we’d had TIE in, and that they wanted to support LGBT students but were scared they wouldn’t know how to do it, that they would say the wrong thing or not know the appropriate information to give them. Teachers still have that fear, so we were able to do staff training with TIE as well to help teachers feel more confident in speaking to pupils.

In terms of homophobic bullying and the words we would hear being used – sometimes not even directed at someone who’s gay, but what kids would call “banter” – there’s been a really significant change in that. We’ve got a culture now where other pupils are happy to call it out as well, they’re happy to challenge it. There’s a real shift in culture. We know statistically that it’s had an impact because we’ve had more events of homophobic bullying being recorded.

An example is one pupil who earlier in the year was experiencing homophobic bullying. He wouldn’t even get out of bed to come to school. The bullying wasn’t within the school gates, it was out in the community, but it involved boys from the school. We tackled that in the school through this education. He was at the point of leaving, but now he’s coming back. He sat exams this year that he otherwise wouldn’t have sat, and he’s already picked his subjects for next year.

We’re also finding the TIE Campaign has helped shift attitudes around gender norms. One of my colleagues, a computing teacher, has found she has more female students signing up when traditionally it was more male. She thinks because we’ve tackled this as a whole that we’ve challenged stereotypes and broken down gender norms. So we’re finding it’s breaking through into choices now as well.

I think full LGBT inclusive education would make a significant impact on kids. What’s happened with us is that we’ve driven it, but I think there’s a lot of schools that aren’t doing that, they’ve not changed their courses. It’s time to really wake up and realise LGBT kids are looking for something more specific to them, but we don’t need to exclude each other. Why are we only discussing man and woman? Why are we not discussing two men and two women as well? By discussing it all in the classroom it makes it the norm for every child, and hopefully makes it the norm when they go out into society.