Scotland is making it mandatory for government schools to teach LGBT+ issues in a move aimed at tackling homophobia and discrimination that it says is a global first.
The government said schools would be required to adopt an “LGBT+ inclusive” curriculum, including tackling homophobia, biphobia and transphobia and promoting awareness of the history of LGBT+ movements.
“Scotland will become the first country in the world to have LGBTI inclusive education embedded in the curriculum,” said a statement released on Thursday.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney added that it was “vital the curriculum is as diverse as the young people who learn in our schools”.
Campaigners said the move sent a “strong and clear message” that LGBT+ pupils were valued in Scotland.
“This is a monumental victory for our campaign, and a historic moment,” Jordan Daly of the Time for Inclusive Education Campaign, which had lobbied for the change, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“This sends a strong and clear message to LGBTI young people that they are valued here in Scotland.”
More than 40 per cent of Scottish LGBT+ students said they had not been taught about issues concerning sexuality, according to a 2017 survey from British campaign group Stonewall.
Just 22 per cent had learned about safe sex in relation to same-sex relationships, the study found.
“Under these new proposals, teachers will have access to the resources and training they need to create more inclusive learning environments and better support LGBT students,” said Colin Macfarlane, director of Stonewall Scotland.
“In schools that teach about LGBT issues, LGBT young people are more likely to feel welcomed, safe and accepted.”
Scotland only decriminalised homosexuality in 1980, 13 years after England and Wales. Yet it was ranked as the most gay-friendly and tolerant nation in Europe in the 2016 Rainbow Index compiled by campaign group ILGA-Europe.
The announcement comes after equality campaigners said a planned overhaul of sex education in government schools in England failed to address needs of LGBT+ students.
Scotland’s schools operate under a separate curriculum.