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Why focus on LGBT issues?

Raising awareness of discrimination and how to stop it helps us support children and reflects our fundamental values, writes Simon Massey

Children in Scotland started the LGBT Charter of Rights accreditation this year. It’s something that is really important to us as an organisation and to me personally. But why?

In 2015, Children in Scotland made the decision to commit some of our time to our own continual improvement, whether linked to the services we provide, our staff or how we work. We decided to do this in a number of ways, including making use of outside expertise and support.

Our first formal step was to undertake the EFQM Committed to Excellence (C2E) accreditation. In case you’re wondering EFQM = European framework for quality management! We had support from Quality Scotland and were delighted to receive our award in June.

Not to let the grass grow under our feet, we’d already decided to undertake the LGBT Charter and had been in discussions with Cara Spence from LGBT Youth Scotland. We met earlier in the year and formally started the accreditation in July, which will run through to the end of next June.

Why LGBT issues and not another group in society or way of working? Why did I encourage Children in Scotland to do this?

It’s what I know. As a gay man, I’ve lived and worked in places where homophobia is rife, and where it’s not. I’ve seen the difference it can make to people – to their enjoyment of life, their ability to do their job, or their longer-term mental health. Having the option to be out is essential. Knowing that the organisation you are engaging with (professionally or through using a service) has an awareness of the issues is vital. And visibility of these things is key.

As a children’s sector organisation, we are now absolutely clear about the impact of homophobia on children, young people and families and the need to be LGBT inclusive in what we do. The great work that LGBT Youth Scotland, the TIE campaign, Stonewall Scotland, Equality Network and others do provides the evidence (if you need convincing) but also the support and guidance to help. There’s more information on each of these organisations on this page.

It’s also fundamentally about values – something Children in Scotland is strong on, having our own clear set of values. This is one of the things that attracted me to working here in the first place.

I also believe that focussing on one area of discrimination or group in society does not only benefit that group. What we, as an organisation, learn about the discrimination of LGBT people and how to work in a more inclusive way can be used in many other areas. It can only help us do our job better and achieve our vision that all children in Scotland have an equal chance to flourish.

We now have a great Children in Scotland LGBT Champions Group made up from across the organisation. Alongside me, we have Annie Watson from Enquire, Elaine Kerridge from Policy, Projects & Participation and Lynn Gilmour from the Communications team. Other colleagues feed into the activities as needed.

We completed our first day of LGBT awareness training earlier in October, delivered by Cara from LGBT Youth Scotland. Sixteen members of our staff took part, as well as Enquire and NPFS, plus Patricia Jackson from our Board. It really was an excellent day with amazing feedback from participants. Our second training day is already booked in for April 2018.

We’ll now continue working through our action plan (developed with help from Cara and input from staff), which directly links to the standards. It isn’t as daunting as it may sound! Take a look at LGBT Charter box elsewhere on this page.

One of our priorities in our 2017-2021 strategic plan is to ‘lead and develop the workforce’. We aim to do this in a number of different ways, including the sharing of our own experience and learning. We plan to do this by tracking our LGBT Charter accreditation journey by:

Please do join us on the journey – like, comment and share any of our tweets, blogs or articles; become part of our network and #FindYourVoice; or join us in membership to receive all the benefits it brings.

You’ll also have the chance to learn more at the joint Children in Scotland / LGBT Youth Scotland conference which kicks off LGBT History Month on 1st February 2018 – An equal future? Scotland’s next steps for including children & young people. More details on this page.

What’s the next area to focus on after the LGBT Charter? Well, we don’t know right now! A decision will be made when we hear what our staff have to say in our annual survey and what our children and young people’s advisory group, Change our world, feel we should be looking at.

What I am confident of is that, as evidenced in our approach to the EFQM C2E accreditation and LGBT Charter, we will continue to develop as an organisation with enthusiasm and commitment. All with the aim of improving the lives of children in Scotland.

Simon Massey, Head of Engagement & Learning

An equal future?

A unique event exploring next steps for including children and young people

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LGBT Charter of Rights

Your journey to LGBT equality and inclusion

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Time for Inclusive Education (TIE)

Combatting homophobia, bi-phobia and transphobia with inclusive education

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Equality Network

Working for LGBTI equality and human rights in Scotland

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LGBT Youth Scotland

Helping make Scotland the best place to grow up

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Stonewall Scotland

Acceptance without exception

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Scottish Government

LGBT policy and actions

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