THREE former footballers have backed calls for LGBTI issues to be taught in schools to tackle homophobic bullying.
Former Rangers players Gary McSwegan, Bobby Russell and Dougie Bell, have given their support to the Time for Inclusive Education (TIE) campaign.
Mr McSwegan, who played for the side between 1986 and 1993 and now works in a care home, said: “I know that LGBTI young people often feel isolated and excluded.
“School should be the best time of a young person’s life, but this often isn’t the case if they identify as LGBTI and that isn’t good enough.
“Society has made progress on equality, but we have to do more and we have to start making things better for LGBTI youth at school.
“That’s why I am supporting the TIE Campaign: to send a message to young people that it’s not cool to be homophobic or transphobic and to join the call for LGBTI inclusive education in all of our schools.”
Research from the campaign group shows nine out of ten lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) pupils reported experiencing homophobia at school.
It also found 27% had attempted suicide after bullying about their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Bobby Russell, who joined Rangers in 1977 and played there for ten years, believes the situation can be improved with lessons on LGBTI issues.
He said: “It is time to stamp out prejudice and that can be achieved if we educate our kids about LGBTI issues.
“I am happy to support TIE, because all young people should feel free to be who they are without fear of bullying.”
The Scottish Government recently launched a joint working-group with TIE and other stakeholders, which has been tasked with making recommendations to Ministers as to how the group’s proposals can be implemented.
Former Ibrox player Dougie Bell, who played at the club between 1985 and 1987, has previously spoken out against homophobic bullying.
He said: “I am keen to reaffirm my support for TIE, particularly as I am aware that they are now working with the Scottish Government to bring forward their proposals for LGBTI issues to be taught in schools.
“Homophobia remains a problem in many schools across the country and I am eager to see LGBTI inclusive education in all schools – as it would transform the lives of LGBTI young people.”
In February, the Scottish Parliament became the first in Europe to support LGBTI inclusive education after a majority of MSPs signed TIE’s campaign pledge.