Why has it taken so long for schools to teach that gays aren’t freaks or crim­i­nals?

The Scotsman - - Perspective / Letters To The Editor -

It is a rare SNP govern­ment ini­tia­tive, par­tic­u­larly in ed­u­ca­tion, that im­presses me but I sup­port their ef­forts to en­cour­age LGBTI ed­u­ca­tion in our schools (your re­port, 9 November).

In a dif­fer­ent era I went through 12 years of school ed­u­ca­tion which pre­pared me well for my seven years at univer­sity med­i­cal school, dur­ing all of which I grad­u­ally re­alised I was ho­mo­sex­ual – “gay” was then still a word that held its orig­i­nal def­i­ni­tion. I never ex­pe­ri­enced any per­sonal an­tag­o­nism or dis­crim­i­na­tion be­cause I knew not to ap­pear or be­have dif­fer­ently but I was far from con­tent with my­self: it was im­plicit in ev­ery­thing I read, that we were told and taught and what I saw on tele­vi­sion, that ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity was at best an ill­ness and at worst crim­i­nal and sin­ful.

I could not be my­self or be open about by feel­ings for many years, un­til well into my twen­ties.

Re­turn­ing sev­eral times re­cently to my old school, Kirk­caldy High School, I was impressed and moved emo­tion­ally to find that they have a very ac­tive LGBTI sup­port group, it has won awards from COSLA and in the foyer there is an amaz­ing poster cor­ner pro­claim­ing this ini­tia­tive.

That more schools will now have to in­clude ed­u­ca­tion on LGBTI is­sues must be wel­come. But why has it taken 50 years since I left school?

Of course this will frus­trate and an­noy those with strong re­li­gious views, and I spent decades ac­cept­ing those, but young peo­ple to­day who, for ex­am­ple, are gay have to know that they are not freaks or crim­i­nals and those who are not need to know and be told that about their fel­low stu­dents, and that dis­crim­i­na­tion is ab­hor­rent.

It is im­ma­te­rial that Scot­land will be “first in the world” to do this, po­lit­i­cally driven grand­stand­ing: what is im­por­tant is that it hap­pens and young peo­ple know how to ac­cept them­selves and oth­ers around them.

(DR) ALAN RODGER

Clair­mont Gar­dens, Glas­gow

We must con­grat­u­late Nicola Stur­geon and John Swin­ney for in­tro­duc­ing LGBTI ed­u­ca­tion into the Scot­tish cur­ricu­lum... an­other great ini­tia­tive to stand along­side the Named Per­son Scheme and P1 test­ing.

May I ask them when they will be ad­dress­ing the stan­dards in nu­mer­acy and lit­er­acy which have been fall­ing over the past decade?

I’m sure we all re­mem­ber Ms Stur­geon telling us that she should be judged on her record in Ed­u­ca­tion. Is ten years enough time to form a rea­soned judge­ment?

JIM HOUS­TON

Win­ton Gar­dens, Ed­in­burgh

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