Pupils to learn about Wilde’s life in LGBTI curriculum
As Scotland leads the world in a progressive agenda of teaching LGBTI at school, Education Correspondent ANDREW DENHOLM looks at what pupils will study
great works of gay and lesbian artists and writers from Oscar Wilde to Michaelangelo are already taught in Scottish schools.
But what is not so widely discussed is how the sexuality of these men and women influenced their artistic and literary endeavours.
Similarly, while the achievements of figures such as English mathematician and Enigma codebreaker Alan Turing appear in history lessons, less is known of his later prosecution for homosexual acts.
That is set to change following a landmark move by the Scottish Government to make the education system the first in the world to recognise issues faced by the LGBTI community.
As a result, schools will be provided with a range of new teaching materials which highlight issues such as tackling homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, prejudice in relation to the LGBTI community and awareness of the history of the LGBTI movement.
The materials will be used in different ways, but one of the most groundbreaking is their inclusion by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) in National 5 and Higher subjects such as modern studies, history, English and art and drama.
That means all pupils studying these qualifications are likely to be taught from the new materials because they could face questions about them in their final exams.
Jordan Daly, co-founder of the Time for Inclusive Education (Tie) campaign, said the materials would not mark a radical departure, but would mark a shift in emphasis.
He said: “LGBTI inclusion in these subjects will guarantee that young people will learn about the achievements and contributions of the LGBTI community to the country and the wider world. Teachers will teach it because they need to help pupils pass the exam.
“Schools are already teaching Oscar Wilde, but what is missing is what his writing means in the context of his arrest and conviction.
“A lot of schools teach authors like Carol Ann Duffy and Val Mcdermid and what we are saying is that if their work is informed by their personal circumstances then it should be included in these lessons.”
Mr Daly said other examples in modern studies and history could be the incarceration of LGBTI groups in Nazi concentration camps, the Stonewall riots in 1969 in New York and the story of Sally Ride, the first female American woman in space, who was a lesbian.
The other way LGBTI materials will be introduced is through the delivery of compulsory relationships, sexual health and parenthood (RSHP) education for all pupils.
The new materials will be underpinned by updated statutory guidance which will “apply to all public schools in Scotland”.
Currently, Catholic schools have greater freedom over what is delivered in RSHP, with the Scottish Catholic Education Service’s (Sces) own guidance stating pupils will learn about marriage as the “ideal context for sexual intimacy and self – giving between a man and a woman”.
Despite this shift, Barbara Coupar, director of the Sces, welcomed the new recommendations saying they will help ensure pupils and staff are properly equipped to eradicate prejudicedbased bullying.
However, there was concern from Simon Calvert, from The Christian Institute. He said: “There is already a great deal of emphasis on LGBT issues in schools and perhaps the time and money would be better spent trying to improve education for everyone.”
The new materials will be developed with the SQA and curriculum body Education Scotland and then rolled out to schools by 2021. In order to ensure all schools are adopting them all future inspections will specifically ask for evidence of
There is also a commitment that, if the implementation group do not see sufficient progress in delivery of LGBTI inclusive education by 2021, then the Scottish Government should consult them on further measures, including legislation to enforce change.
Oscar Wilde and, above right, writer Val Mcdermid, astronaut SallyRide and codebreaker Alan Turing.