“An astonishingly powerful narrative”

“An astonishingly powerful narrative”

It is not an exaggeration to say that the day I met Jordan Daly my life changed.

I had not given much thought to inclusivity in the education system. I thought I had a fairly rounded education myself, I had studied Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela after all.

But when it was pointed out to me what was lacking in the 80s when I was a pupil was still lacking now at the turn of a new century I was appalled and ashamed in equal measure. Appalled because it seemed such a big omission to ignore all of the talents and effort of LGBTI people over the years and ashamed of myself because I had done nothing to fix it.

Straightaway I knew I had to spread the TIE campaign message. As Chair of the National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS) I had the opportunity to invite Jordan and Liam Stevenson along to encourage other parents with their enthusiasm and help spread their message wider. It is not an understatement to say that the representatives from the NPFS that day were spellbound. Jordan and Liam have an astonishingly powerful narrative and when faced with the reality of Jordan’s anguish it is difficult to imagine how anyone, particularly a parent could wish this on their own child.

In November 2017 the NPFS pledged their support to the TIE campaign. The group took up a place on the Scottish Government led LGBT inclusive education working group to voice parent concerns, to share parent support and to continue an open and frank discussion among parent councils and the parent body. The NPFS continues with this work on the LGBT implementation group to this day.

As a parent to my own children I became a much more open and, I hope, positive influence around the issues TIE raises. I could not presume to know their feelings and preferences but wanted to make them and their friends feel safe in my house and in my company. I realised how many gaps were in my own education. My terminology was confused and I was often scared to say anything in case I got it wrong. But my children and their friends helped me. They gave me confidence and shared their feelings and knowledge openly.

I know that when Jordan, Liam and their TIE colleagues visit schools that this message is no less powerful. I believe it is only through direct interaction and discussion that change is made. Our young people may have lack of knowledge in LGBTI history or subconscious prejudice of LGBTI people and TIE changes that when it visits schools.

It saddens me when I reflect on my own schooling and realise the chances missed. I am pleased that my children learnt more than I did but not enough. I am hopeful that largely due to TIE my grandchildren will be able to enjoy an education which is inclusive of diverse relationships, family types and identities. The future is brighter for that.

Joanna is a parent to 3 children and a new grandmother. She was chair of the National Parent Forum from 2016 until 2020. She is now a Trustee on the TIE Board.