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Church of Scotland minister supports LGBT

Category: Industry News, community, Government, campaign, education, programme, approach

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A Church of Scotland minister has backed a call for LGBT issues to be taught in Scottish schools, arguing that the mainstream faith agenda should be “seized back from the bigots".

Reverend John Nugent, of Saint Fergus Church in Wick, has claimed that the current lack of LGBT inclusive education is a breach of children’s rights and that faith communities should be more accepting of LGBT young people.

He has given his support to the Time for Inclusive Education (TIE) campaign, which is lobbying the Scottish Government to introduce a programme of LGBT inclusive education into all Scottish schools as part of a new national approach to tackle high rates of prejudice based bullying.

In December, David Mundell, secretary of state for Scotland and the first openly gay Tory cabinet minister, gave his backing to the TIE campaign. TIE published a report last month which found that 90 percent of LGBT people experience homophobia while at school, and 27 percent reported that they had attempted suicide once due to being bullied.

Rev Nugent said: “I believe that all inhabitants of our planet have rights that go along with being human. One of those rights grants an education which will further the individual's development so that she or he can grow into full personhood. Denial of that right is therefore unconscionable.

"Inclusive education is crucial to the full development of the individual and denying access to inclusion is tantamount to a denial of human rights.

"Schools and other places of education, faith centres and youth organisations are the appropriate loci for this. If our young people grow in an inclusive atmosphere then gradually bigotry, prejudice and bullying will end. In this sense the LGBTI community has led the way ahead of faith communities - which should be inclusive, but sadly aren’t."

Rev Nugent joins other faith leaders including Reverend Kelvin Holdsworth of the Scottish Episcopal Church and Islamic scholar Amanullah De Sondy in supporting the campaign and speaking out against prejudice towards LGBT people within faith communities.

He said: "Inclusivity lies in the DNA of faith. The founders of the great faith traditions left the door open to all, and it is this ancient path that must be reclaimed and promoted; the faith agenda then being seized back from the bigots and the haters. Idealistic? Maybe, but it is a goal that is worth pursuing - and it is a noble goal which we have to pursue for the sake of our young people.”

Campaigners from TIE met with Education Secretary John Swinney last October to discuss their proposals for LGBT issues, such as same-sex families and the history of the LGBT rights movement, to be included in curricular guidance and for teachers to be trained on how to address the topic in the classroom.

But the Scottish Government has faced criticism from Holyrood opposition benches for its lack of movement since then, with Conservative MSP Annie Wells accusing First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of paying “lip service” to the campaign during a recent chamber debate.

In November, TIE took its case to the equalities and human rights committee of the Scottish Parliament, where it expressed concerns over the Scottish Government's current approach to tackling homophobia in schools.

Afterwards, Swinney wrote to the committee and agreed to delay the publication of its new anti-bullying strategy to allow time for more discussions on it.

MSPs had been told there was not enough consistent data about bullying linked to factors such as race, religion, gender or sexuality.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Deputy First Minister met with TIE in October to discuss how LGBTI+ issues are addressed in schools and we continue to engage with all stakeholders, including Stonewall Scotland, LGBT Youth Scotland and the TIE Campaign, to ensure schools address the important issues LGBTI+ young people face.

“Local authorities and schools decide how to deliver the curriculum based on local needs and circumstances. History is an area of the curriculum which provides opportunities to study a wide range of people and historical events, and diversity is important within that, ensuring that pupils develop a nuanced, balanced, informed understanding of past people and events. Teachers use their professional judgement to select which historical periods and people to study.”

A Church of Scotland spokesman said: “The Church has a range of voices and Rev John Nugent is speaking in a personal capacity as a parish minister.

“The Church welcomes people regardless of their sexual orientation.

“The Church continues to discuss issues of human sexuality and any decisions on this matter would be openly debated at a future General Assembly.”  

VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please call 02037405973 or email [email protected] for more information.

We are also officially recommended by Disability Confident as a step on achieving Employer status, please click here for more information.

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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email [email protected] for more information.

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