Actress Emma Thompson has called for an end to homophobia in Scottish schools and has endorsed the TIE (Time for Inclusive Education) campaign, which is calling on the next Scottish Government to tackle high rates of suicide and self harm amongst LGBT+ school pupils.
In backing the campaign, Thompson said: “The time for homophobia is long gone. It’s over. Any young person indulging in homophobic bullying is a teenage dinosaur who should just go and sit coughing over a sherry in an old white men’s club… it’s not cool, it’s not intelligent and it’s not attractive. Let the rainbow live. We are all in this together and if you’re young, you know that better than anyone. Get rid of the old, get in with the new – get rid of homophobia.”
TIE’s campaigners have highlighted that while Scotland is considered one of the most LGBT+ friendly countries in Europe, this is not reflected in the national education system where 1 in 4 LGBT+ youth have attempted suicide as a result of homophobic bullying, according to Stonewall statistics.
Support for LGBT+ inclusive education in Scotland has continued to grow. Thompson joins a long list of celebrities, campaigners and politicians who have voiced their support for TIE, including the SNP’s Mhairi Black, Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie, LGBT rights campaigner Peter Tatchell and rugby referee Nigel Owens.
Most recently, the SNP unanimously passed a resolution in support of TIE at its Spring Conference this month, which called for an education system that is fully inclusive of LGBT+ identities. A manifesto commitment is expected from the party in the coming weeks.
Commenting on the news, a spokesperson for TIE said: “We are delighted that Emma Thompson has backed our campaign, and has joined us in urging the next Scottish Government to commit to tackling homophobia in schools. Despite education featuring prominently throughout the current parliamentary election campaign, there has been no public mention of LGBT+ education from any party leaders thus far. Hopefully, the growing support for our cause will encourage them to start addressing the very real issues facing LGBT+ youth in our schools.”
In a policy paper released this week, TIE has outlined various strategy steps that it urges the next Scottish Government to adopt – including a revision of the national approach to tackling homophobia in schools, ensuring that specific funding is set aside for teacher training on LGBT+ issues and for the creation of a “more progressive sex and relationships” education that “speaks openly and honestly about consent, gender relations and LGBT+ issues”.