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Some LGBTI children in school are planning their deaths, not their futures

MSP Rona Mackay has spoken out the TIE Campaign debate in the Scottish Parliament. She outlined her support for the anti-LGBTI bullying group and highlighted the problems facing many LGBT children in school.

I thank Monica Lennon for bringing this important debate to the chamber.

The First Minister has said that inclusion is the guiding principle for everything that we do and, as we heard in the moving and passionate speeches from members around the chamber, the TIE campaign is doing an amazing job of following that principle in tackling the discrimination and bullying of LGBTI people in schools. I congratulate Jordan and Liam, whose commitment blew me away when we first met.

As well as extensive campaigning, TIE offers free assemblies, teacher training and seminars around Scotland to promote LGBTI inclusion in schools. I am absolutely delighted that the Scottish Government has agreed to work with TIE to promote inclusive education in schools, which will have a huge impact on future generations.

Sadly, our schools are still a focal point of LGBTI discrimination and bullying. Many LGBTI children in Scotland are terrified of going to school, where they are terrorised for simply being themselves. Children are harming themselves as a direct result of the abuse that they receive in school. When they should be planning their future, some are planning their deaths.

Stonewall Scotland’s research has found that one in four of LGBTI children who are bullied in school have attempted suicide. No one should be subjected to that. In conjunction with TIE, we can now bring more inclusivity into education to discourage the ignorance and the bigoted views that are at the heart of the discrimination. It is the least that we can do for our children and it is overdue.

Discrimination and bullying does not just affect life in school. The experience of being emotionally and physically abused, and of children being forced to reject their identity to try to assimilate, has long-lasting effects. Ninety-five per cent of LGBTI people believe that their experiences in school had long-lasting negative effects on them.

Scotland is regarded as the best country in Europe for LGBTI equality. That is an incredible success and, by pledging to promote inclusivity, we will be the world leader. To monitor and ensure progression, TIE’s pledge calls for information on the steps taken to increase LGBTI inclusivity to be collected at local authority level and I totally agree with Jeremy Balfour’s words on that.

At a time when children should be building and developing their confidence, many are being broken down. We have a collective responsibility to ensure that that never happens to any child. The TIE campaign uses the hashtag #bethatvoice. Together we need to be one voice to change the completely unnecessary and immeasurably damaging discrimination in Scottish schools. That is why I am delighted that our Government has agreed to work with TIE and others to promote education in schools, and I look forward to that happening as soon as possible. We must end that horrible discrimination and get it right for every child now—we cannot wait any longer.

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