Concern was raised about content as councillors discussed a report on efforts to boost equality
By Sarah Hilley, Local Democracy Reporting Service, for STV News
A book claiming being gay is a “sin” has been used in a West of Scotland secondary school, a councillor has warned, despite efforts to boost LGBT rights.
Trained teacher Fiona Higgins expressed her concern about the teaching materials being available in the schools, which express views that “oppose” LGBT rights.
The Labour councillor said the content had upset some “pupils” in the Catholic school while a council officer said they are working with headteachers to encourage the use of “appropriate materials” and admitted there are “challenges”.
Speaking at a council meeting last week, Councillor Higgins said: “I’ve seen some incredible work in LGBT inclusion.
“I was surprised to see some of the material when I worked in one denominational school.
“The ‘Called to Love’ curriculum which teaches Catholic values, much of which are very commendable, but still includes chapters on how marriage should be between a man and a woman and how homosexuality is a sin.”
Councillor Higgins, who didn’t name the school, added: “I know this caused upset to a number of my pupils. I didn’t teach that chapter but pupils tend to go for a look through the books when they know it is there.
“These contents and materials in Glasgow City Council schools still are concerning and are opposed to the TIE values and the values we say we have in Glasgow City Council. It is worth reviewing that.”
Councillor Higgins’ concerns emerged as councillors discussed a report on council efforts to boost equality at the well-being, equalities, communities, culture and engagement committee last week.
Responding to the politician’s points, a council officer said: “For a number of years we have been trying to work even closer with the Archdiocese of Glasgow (Catholic Church).”
The official said the council recognises the Archdiocese has a “curriculum content structure of their own which we appreciate runs alongside what we do”.
He added: “We absolutely identify with what you are saying, councillor and these are the challenges we face on an ongoing and daily basis.
“We try to work closely with the headteachers and school communities to encourage the usage of appropriate material. But I think frankly it is a tough nut and we can only keep pushing for it.”
Councillor Higgins who represents the Canal ward said she knows it is “challenging” and is also “challenging” for staff.
She said: “You want to respect the values of the school and respect religion which is a protected characteristic”
A council paper presented at the committee said: “Education Services continues to work with partner organisations to deliver initiatives to raise awareness about diversity and to tackle homophobia.”
The paper said 17 secondary schools and about seven primaries are involved in LGBT Youth Scotland Chartermark development work. The charter allows schools to include LGBT pupils in every aspect of education.
The paper added: “This session we have continued to strengthen our links with Time for Inclusive Education (TIE) working in partnership to promote the national website, resources and e-learning modules.”
- Despite the fact that we all contribute to funding their services, West Dunbartonshire Council refuse to speak to The Democrat, so we do not know if the book in question is circulating in our local schools, which will be a matter of concern for some pupils, parents and guardians.