OPINION I don’t need to be given an excuse to talk about how amazing Scotland is, the people, the beautiful scenery, the swally (drink), the craic (humour) and the fact that Scottish people invented the TV and penicillin but my country did something recently that made me the proudest I have ever been.
Last month, Scotland became one of the first countries in the world to have LGBTI inclusive education embedded into its school curriculum, to be taught across age groups and subjects.
The Scottish Government had been working with campaign group TIE (Time for Inclusive Education) and others from the public sector and charitable organisations since last year.
‘We should be focusing on Maths and English’
There has been quiet, but widespread, celebration of the announcement but as ever people have expressed their concerns and questioned why this subject needs to be introduced into an already packed curriculum, by already stretched and over worked teachers.
However, recognising LGBTI themes in the school curriculum isn’t a luxury, snowflake initiative it is fundamentally important for two reasons:
1. To give children and young people a balanced and accurate view of society, world events and history.
2. To prevent prejudice and bigotry, including the internalized homophobia that LGBTI people have to navigate through in the current system.
The view that introducing LGBTI themes into lessons is adding something extra, that doesn’t need to be there is false. Sex, love and romance and the political context in which they sit are primary human drivers and have been responsible for some of the greatest literary works, works of art and events of human history.
Consider enigma code breaker, Alan Turing, without whom the Allied Forces would not have been able to intercept enemy messages and ultimately, end WW2. He was then convicted of gross indecency and sentenced to 12 months of ‘hormone therapy’ by the British Government and only recently granted a pardon. How could any history lesson about this man provide a complete picture of the world at that time without mentioning any of this?
“Early visibility of diverse, brilliant and heroic LGBTQI figures in history would also help break down negative stereotypes of queer people …”
You can’t be what you can’t see
Early visibility of diverse, brilliant and heroic LGBTI figures in history would also help break down negative stereotypes of queer people and send the message to LGBTI young people that they aren’t the only ones, and that they can be and do whatever they want.
Reading any textbook, you would assume that 80% of people are white, straight and male and of course we know that’s a tiny proportion of human kind. LGBTI inclusive education is merely replacing the stories and perspectives that have been lost.
Think: Alexander the Great, Audre Lord, Marsha P Johnson, Oscar Wilde …
We owe it to our young people who, according to the Office for National Statistics, are more likely to identify as LGB than other age groups, to make queer figures visible and lift them out of the depth of history.