Liam Stevenson, an LGBT activist and co-founder of the Time for Inclusive Education campaign, aimed at bringing LGBTI+ inclusive education to all schools across Scotland, is hoping to make changes at the federal level, too. Stevenson has been selected as a candidate for the left-wing electoral movement RISE: Respect, Independence, Socialism, and Environmentalism. Stevenson is considered one of the most important faces in the fight for LGBT rights in Scotland.
Though same-sex marriage was legalized in Scotland in 2014, Stevenson believes there is more work to be done at the national level, particularly as the religious right pushes back. Stevenson and Jordan Daly, also a co-founder of TIE, is concerned by the influence religion has on sex education in schools.
“My cousin is going through sex education now and he’s at a denominational school…the pamphlet they’re working from is called ‘God’s loving plan,’ and it really is frightening that in this day and age, that is being taught to kids,” Daly says. Their intentions closely mirror those of Ken Mehlman, whose amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court asked that religious freedom laws that harm the LGBT community be dismantled.
Stevenson says that he is delighted by the nomination and that he hopes to affect national change in a parliament that still resists them. “As the [Scottish National Party] have selected, as one of their candidates, Sophia Coyle—who has particularly regressive views—I believe it is important that those within the LGBTI+ community who support independence in Central Scotland have an alternative option on the ballot paper.”
On a local level, Stevenson hopes that he will be able to raise his four-year-old daughter in a culture that isn’t rife with homophobic slurs. And he believes that attitudes around the country are changing. “I remember being 13-14 and not seeing LGBTI+ things anywhere, but now it’s much more mainstream,” he says. “We’re moving slowly, but change is happening….We’ve got marriage equality, and I think education is the big one now.”
“If we can get this [education] implemented, the effects can be nearly instant because it’s a generational thing,” Stevenson adds. “All over you have sons and daughters correcting mums and dads and aunties. The new generation can begin making homophobia unacceptable, if we get it right at school.”