For our first site visit in Edinburgh we met with a group called Time for Inclusive Education, or TIE, which focuses on creating LGBTI+ inclusive education settings in classrooms all around Scotland. The organization started out as a grassroots movement in response to the Scottish parliament’s rejection of a petition that demanded LGBTI+ education, and has since grown into a nationally recognized group that every political party in Scotland has pledged to support.
The first thing we saw when we arrived in the meeting room was a sheet of paper full of chilling statistics, which you can see below. It’s unthinkable that more than one out of four LGBTI+ youth in Scotland attempt suicide as a result of bullying, and we aren’t even seeing the unreported cases or the attempts that come after the initial one. The rest of the stats tell a similar story of depression and isolation, but Jordan and Liam, the cofounders of TIE, told us that their goal and the goal of the organization is to bring these numbers down to zero, no matter how long it takes.
The main function of TIE is to go into schools around the nation and give assemblies talking about the use of homophobic language and how it can affect and hurt people. By doing this, they start the conversation among young people so that they can become more educated and aware of the impact of their words. While they do this, they also put out news articles to further publicize their name and cause, garnering even more support. This October, they will also start implementing a free-of-charge LGBTI+ training program aimed towards teachers that addresses how to prevent and combat homophobic bullying.
Because TIE is a non-profit organization that does not take government funds, they are able to criticize the government and call them out. Although Scottish political parties have said they will support and make progress on LGBTI+ inclusion in schools, none of them have actually passed any bills or done anything to back up their words. No time frames have been set either, even though political leaders insist that they will get it done. The continued non-action of the government forces us to question exactly how important this issue is to them, but the founders of TIE are determined to see and will do everything in their power for LGBTI+ inclusive education to be established in all schools in Scotland.
Written by Michelle Zhang