GALA striker Zander Murray says he is delighted to have been asked to speak at a national programme of educational workshops to tackle an increase in the number of homophobic incidents at youth football matches in Scotland.

The newly launched partnership between the Scottish Youth Football Association (SYFA) and Time for Inclusive Education (TIE), the first of its kind in Scotland, will see sessions delivered to grassroots volunteers and players.

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The workshops will aim to raise awareness of prejudice, explain where stereotypes come from, how unconscious bias develops and how tackling exclusion ensures there is always a safe and nurturing environment for anyone who wishes to play football in Scotland.

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Murray will talk about his personal experiences and encourage attendees to consider the language they use by helping them understand the impact homophobic language can have.

He said: “I’m absolutely delighted to get this over the line. There is a massive need for this at present in grassroots football. [I'm] looking forward to getting started.”

SYFA chief operating officer Florence Witherow said: “As an organisation we see this partnership as absolutely essential to our strategy of tackling discrimination of all types in grassroots football. Last year we launched a similar partnership with Show Racism the Red Card and we’re already seeing positive results from that work.

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“The way TIE puts the focus on education fits very well with our own approach and, having seen some of the good work and positive results they have already achieved we’re confident that this partnership will have a substantive positive impact.

“Football has an incredible power to break down barriers and foster inclusion across society but, in the last 12 months, we’ve seen a worrying upward trend in the number of homophobic incidents happening across grassroots football in Scotland. It’s a pattern that, alongside our leagues and clubs, we are working hard to address.

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“We hope that this partnership will go some way to helping ensure that every young person in Scotland can play football in a safe, supportive and inclusive environment.”

TIE is Scotland’s LGBT inclusive education charity. Its goal is, through education and by providing resources to schools free of charge, to help ensure all young people grow up in a society free from homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.

Beginning as the TIE Campaign, a grassroots group, it built and led the movement that saw Scotland become the first country in the world to commit to embedding LGBT inclusive education throughout the curriculum.

TIE provides teachers with services and resources to implement LGBT learning themes into routine classroom activity. This allows LGBT young people to feel included in their learning and helps all learners to understand that LGBT people are an equal part of our society.

This education can prevent the stigma and stereotypes that leads to prejudice.