A former Roman Catholic schoolteacher has warned that making changes to the way that Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenting education is delivered in schools could “encourage children to become homosexual or lesbian”.
The former teacher, Hugh McLaughlin, was speaking yesterday on Stephen Jardine’s BBC Radio Scotland programme. The issue of how we teach young people about homosexuality and gender identity was one of the topics for debate, largely thanks to the efforts by the Time for Inclusive Education (TIE) campaign to raise awareness of the lack of compulsory and inclusive LGBTI+ education in Scotland.
Jordan Daly, co-founder of the TIE campaign, was also taking part in the debate – as was John Naples-Campbell, who has been recognised for his pioneering work in promoting LGBTI rights in schools by the General Teaching Council.
Daly explained that he spent many of his years at school struggling with self-acceptance and added that the lack of education on LGBTI issues within the school made his time there more difficult than it should have been. “I went to a school that was not helpful at all…the school neglected the LGBT community. I struggled very heavily to the point that I contemplated suicide…I’ve only now been able to open up about what happened at school.”
He argued that making the education of LGBTI issues mandatory would help young LGBTI people, trying to find their place in society, not to feel alone.
Responding to this, McLaughlin was dismissive of the need for change: “Statistics say that 1.5% of the population are homosexual. So for example, when I started at school, I was in a school which had 640 boys in it. So you would say statistically I should have come across something like six maybe seven fellow pupils who were homosexual.
“Why should the whole school curriculum be altered to revolve around six or seven pupils?”
When asked further about why he objected to a more inclusive approach, McLaughlin said: “What they are suggesting is that we are going to re-write the curriculum and we are actually going to encourage children to become homosexual or lesbian.”
Naples-Campbell argued that although LGBTI teaching is currently included in suggested teaching structures, it is not compulsory and many teachers aren’t comfortable delivering it because they haven’t received adequate training.
McLaughlin replied: “I wouldn’t agree with that because what you’re saying is that all teachers have to go into schools and teach the gay rights agenda.”
Interest in the TIE campaign is increasing, with Jordan Daly’s personal experiences and passionate argument convincing many of the need for imminent change.