Parents in Scotland are overwhelming supportive of LGBT-inclusive education in schools, a new survey has shown.

The poll, carried out by Survation on behalf of Time for Inclusive Education (TIE), revealed that 70% of parents agree with LGBT-inclusive education, with just 15% opposed.

Representatives of Scottish teaching unions have hailed the findings, which the founders of TIE said are representative of their experiences engaging with parents across the country.

Scotland became the first country in the world to embed LGBT-inclusive education, which is now a curricular expectation for all schools. It was introduced with the support of all five parties with representation in the Scottish Parliament.

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The latest data was gathered through online interviews with more than 1000 parents at the beginning of October 2023. The group included those with children in primary school (47%), secondary school (31%) and nursery (22%).

Initially, parents were asked to rate their own awareness of LGBT inclusive education in schools, with a total of 73% stating that they are either ‘very aware’ or ‘quite aware’.

Respondents were then shown a video outlining the reasons for, and approaches used within, LGBT-inclusive education in Scotland. Having watched this, 92% of respondents said that they understood the issues raised.

Subsequent questions revealed the overwhelming support for LGBT-inclusive education. 76% agreed that young people should learn about LGBT-related bullying and prejudice at school, although slightly fewer (67%) believing that doing so would help to address and reduce the problem.

At one stage of the survey, parents were shown a storybook used to teach primary school children about different types of families, including those with same-sex parents. After engaging with the book, 79% said that they would be comfortable with their child learning about it at school.

Two thirds (66%) initially said that young people should learn about historic LGBT figures – but showing respondents an example of teaching about LGBT figures from history led to 81% saying that they would be comfortable with their children learning about it in school.

Ultimately, the survey found that 70% of parents either strongly or somewhat support LGBT inclusive education in schools, and a further 15% expressed no preference. Fewer than ten percent of parents ‘strongly oppose’ inclusive education.

The findings were welcomed by parents groups and teaching unions.

Leanne McGuire, Glasgow representative on behalf of the National Parent Forum of Scotland, said: “It is encouraging to see from the survey results that an overwhelming majority of parents and carers support LGBT Inclusive Education being taught in schools.

“Despite potential misconceptions fuelled by internet and social media misinformation, the data underscores the actual strong backing for incorporating LGBT Inclusive Education into the school curriculum.

“The survey shows strong support for children and young people learning about LGBT-related bullying and prejudice at school, and we know that the best way to break down these prejudices is through education and representation. This is why it is so important for our children and young people to receive a comprehensive education through understanding the diversity of our families and communities, and the prejudices they experience.”

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Nicola Fisher, Equality Committee Convener, The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) said:

“The EIS is pleased by the results showing nearly two thirds of parents and carers are not only aware of but also supportive of, the national approach to LGBT Inclusive Education, and that this figure only increases with further familiarity with teaching resources.

“As LGBT Inclusive Education is now a requirement for all Scottish schools, these findings should be a strong signal to education authorities to meaningfully engage with the national approach, and give teachers the proper time, support and resources so that they can confidently deliver an LGBT inclusive curriculum for the benefit, not only of young people who identify as LGBT+, but of all learners.“

NASUWT National Official, Mike Corbett said:

"All pupils and staff in schools and colleges have a right to learn and work in a safe and secure environment where they are treated with dignity and feel valued and respected.

“Scotland has been leading the way by making the decision to become the first country in the world to have LGBT inclusive education embedded across the curriculum. NASUWT is delighted that many schools have developed good practice in bringing LGBTI education into the curriculum.

“As this survey illustrates there remains overwhelming support for the national approach to LGBT Inclusive Education in Scotland.  NASUWT will continue to advocate for teachers to be provided with the time, resources and training to make this a reality in every school and for every pupil."

Speaking exclusively to The Herald, Liam Stevenson, Co-Founder and Director of Time for Inclusive Education said: “The results from this survey reflect exactly what we see when we engage with parents and carers in schools and communities across Scotland - that they overwhelmingly support this work.

“When considering the results of the data it’s important to highlight the fact that the parents and carers who took part in the survey were shown examples of the national approach to LGBT Inclusive Education. Therefore, the results are from people whose opinions are based on the reality of what this looks like in practice in schools.”