Time for Inclusive Education
Okay, okay, okay, I know it has been since the first week of November since I’ve written you, but this month has literally flown by- and by that I mean blown by because it is just that windy here. Today, it is a crisp 36 degrees but I don’t even care because it’s the first day we’ve all seen the sun since probably the last time I’ve blogged.
Today is the last day of November and I’m pretty sure I’m still from the two Thanksgiving’s I was fortunate enough to celebrate here. On Tuesday last week IFSA hosted a dinner for all of us Glasgow students complete with turkey, candied yams, mashed potatoes, green beens, stuffing, and even pumpkin pie! Then on Thursday almost 20 of us gathered for a potluck style Friendsgiving! It was mine and a ton of other people’s first Thanksgiving away from home so it was amazing to have good people to bring good vibes to the holiday. We also had people from Scotland, Canada, and Australia there, so they experienced their first ever American Thanksgivings!
For this week, I wanted to take the time to talk about something going on here in Scotland that particularly concerns students in the LGBTQ+ community. Also because I’m really excited that this is happening. It’s called Time for Inclusive Education (TIE). TIE is essentially a political campaign meant to address the issues of LGBTQ+-phobia, particularly in academic environments around the UK. But one of the coolest parts about this campaign is that it was cofounded by a sociology student at Glasgow Uni! I had been seeing their logo (the rainbow tie) posted around campus from time to time, but couldn’t really grasp what they were about until I saw a news headline pop up on Facebook. And it was pretty important news in my opinion- TIE had officially taken their campaign to the Scottish Parliament to bring them up to speed on exactly what kind of struggles LGBTQ+ students face in schools around the country. For example, 52% of LGBTI youth have experienced homophobic bullying, 1 in 4 students have attempted suicide due to homophobia, 97% hear words like, ‘faggot’ and ‘dyke’, and 54% do not feel like they are a part of their school community. These statistics come from Stonewall Scotland– an organization meant to provide support for lesbian, gay, transgender, and intersex individuals, as well as work to make communities, institutions, and even laws safe and inclusive towards the LGBTI+ population. They regularly do research to report on what exactly these individuals experience in their daily lives. In 2012, they put out a report on student experiences, as well as a report on teacher experiences in 2014. These reports also gave alarming numbers of students who have left education because of homophobic/transphobic bullying.
So earlier this month, TIE had been invited to speak before the Scottish Parliament and give evidence and testimony of bullying and its negative impacts on students. Their main goals are to implement better education for teachers on the effects of bullying, the experiences of LGBTI+ students, how to handle these instances when they witness them, and how to make education more inclusive so those students will get a normal school experience. One thing that’s also pretty rad is that they are working on creating LGBTI+ groups in schools to help students stay aware of their rights and have a support group at the same time.
The issue of discrimination is often something that’s overlooked even though it plays a huge part in so many LGBTQ+ student’s lives. Those that have access to education should not be scared to attend simply based on who they are. Academic environments are places of growth and exploration, not places we should dread going to because we don’t feel accepted as a person. Teachers, administrators, and policymakers should make it a priority to make not only the LGBTQ+ population, but every single student feel comfortable in a stimulating environment like school. So yes, Time for Inclusive Education is definitely something to be excited about and it’s been really cool to see it gain so much momentum over the past couple months. They will be present during the Edinburgh Winter Pride Fest, which is this week as well. I’m a bit bummed because I don’t think I’ll be able to attend because it’s essay crunch time- but it’s rad that they have pride festivals in the winter and the summer here!
Alright- back to the essay cramming!