A twenty-two-year-old man from Scotland is going to have one ambitious day with much on his agenda, including skydiving. Joe McGurk, from Edinburgh, Scotland is raising money for the Time for Inclusive Education (TIE) campaign—an organization that wants schools to tackle LGBT issues and to discourage bullying.
Skydiving is not the only item on McGurk’s agenda. His fundraising efforts will also include completing a half marathon and shaving off his hair. And yes, he is going to complete all three in one day. His contributions are set to take place on Saturday, October 14, 2017. McGurk has earned more than his set goal for the organization.
While most people will either skydive, shave their head, or participate in a marathon, McGurk chose to do all three. “Go big or go home is what I say,” McGurk told Skydiving.com when talking about his ambitious day. “I want to make my day as hard as possible for myself because they deserve all the support they can get.”
McGurk is a parliamentary assistant to Joan McAlpine in the Scottish Parliament.
While McGurk has never gone skydiving before, he said he choose to include it in his day because a couple of his friends went recently. “I have always wanted to skydive and recently two friends of mine completed a skydive in Birmingham and said it was the most exhilarating thing they have done,” McGurk said. “I thought I would include it into my day.”
TIE’s website states, “We are a Scottish campaign group – founded in June 2015 – which has one very simple aim: to combat homophobia, biphobia and transphobia with inclusive education. Despite recent progress towards LGBTI equality, our schools remain breeding grounds for discrimination and prejudice based bullying. We believe in an education system which is inclusive and free of prejudice for LGBTI youth, and we are lobbying decision makers in order to achieve this.”
The TIE campaign is very important to McGurk. He said he faced bullying in school. “I know from the bottom of my heart my time at school would’ve been made easier if TIE was around,” McGurk said. “What people need to know it that TIE is saving lives, 90 percent of the LGBT pupils face some form of homophobic bullying at school and I guess it is the subsequent effects that come from that such as suicidal thoughts and mental health issues.”
McGurk said that TIE is unfunded and relied on fundraising similar to what he is doing. “I also want to add that TIE is spearheaded by two of the most passionate campaigners I have ever met,” McGurk said.
According to TIE’s website “90 percent of LGBT people experience homophobia, biphobia and transphobia at school, 27 percent have attempted suicide as a result of bullying.”
McGurk raised £1,020 so far on his JustGiving page, which is two times over his goal of £500. This amount was raised by 26 supporters (as of September 16).
McGurk expressed thanks for everybody on his Facebook page. One person in particular stood out in his thanks. “I know ALL of you personally but one,” McGurk said. “Robert McHarg, whoever you are, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your very generous £500 donation. I truly am speechless and excited as to how much of a help all of these donations are going to make to pupils in schools, in a bid to tackle this subject.”
A spokesperson for TIE commented on McGurk’s fundraiser. “As we are unfunded, acts like this are the lifeblood of our campaign and we are very appreciative of efforts to support out work,” the spokesperson said. “Any funds raised by Joe will go towards funding our upcoming teacher training event in Aberdeen, where we will equip teachers with the skills to tackle homophobic, biphobia and transphobic bullying and to make their classrooms more LGBTI inclusive. We wish Joe the best of luck.”
The Scottish Parliament became the first in Europe to show support of LGBT education by signing TIE’s campaign pledge in February 2017. The Scottish government is working with TIE to propose policy recommendations.