Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Student Told To Remove Pride Badge As It 'Promoted' Homosexuality

A 16-year-old student at St. Kentigern's Academy in Blackburn, Scotland, was told to remove Pride badge as it 'promotes' homosexuality.

The student, who has chosen to remain anonymous, told the press that they had recently attended Edinburgh Pride, where he received a small badge with a rainbow heart on it. Upon wearing the badge to school, however, he was told by staff to remove it.

The teen said that the instruction was given by a teacher on behalf of the Academy's head, Mr Sharkey.

'I was given no reason as to why, then after I got upset about it I was told by the teacher who told me to take it off that the school had 'no problem' with me being gay, but however I'm 'promoting' it by wearing the badge,' he told Pink News.

The student reported that after he refused to remove the badge the same instruction was then given to him by a senior member of the staff, giving the same reasons,

A member of the West Lothian Council has stated that all pupils at ST. Kentigern's are made to remove non-school related badges from their uniform as a standard policy. However, the student has countered to say that the policy only states that students must not wear jewelry which could be seen to encourage rivalry, cause offence, damage flooring, promote a message contrary to the values of the school, carry advertising or can be used as a weapon.

The student has said that not only does his Pride badge stay within these specified guidelines, but that students are often allowed to wear badges as part of their uniform.

'I was told by the senior staff member that the school was okay with my sexuality, I just can't promote it.' The student said. 'I said to her that I wore the badge because it was the only place where I felt safe about my sexuality and she told me 'you don't need to wear a badge for that'.

'I feel shocked by the whole thing as well as scared as I no longer feel comfortable going to school. I feel I am going to a place where there's homophobia from staff members, Which feels much more scarier than when I encountered the same from other pupils.

'I feel that there is a lack of understanding of what I am wearing, it's significance, what it stands for, as well as what it doesn't stand for.'

The student has said that he was particularly distressed because he has not yet come out to his family and his school was an environment that he felt comfortable to be himself in.

A spokesperson for the Time For Inclusion (Tie) campaign, which advocates for LGBT+ inclusion in schools released a statement on the matter, saying;

'For almost two years now we have been campaigning for an LGBTI inclusive educational approach in all schools to help eradicate homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. A crucial aspect of our work is challenging negative or prejudicial attitudes towards LGBTI learners.

'Schools can take the lead here, and a central part of their efforts should be around encouraging visibility - alongside a whole school approach towards LGBTI inclusion. The suggestion that the wearing of a Pride badge is 'promoting homosexuality' is not only incorrect, but offensive.

'We would urge the school in question to rethink their approach here, and we would be more than happy to work alongside them in order to help create a more inclusive environment for all their staff and pupils.'

Monica Lennon, the spokesperson for Scottish Labour inequalities, said; 'Sadly LGBTI inclusive education is still a right to be fought for in Scotland's schools. If a school believes that that celebrating love and equality is something to be hidden, serious questions need to be asked about that school.

'The Scottish government must work at pace towards enshrining LGBTI inclusive education in law to prevent more young people being failed.'

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