Questions about sexuality on youth bus pass application form are "a step too far" says Labour

Patrick HarviePatrick Harvie
Patrick Harvie
Why are teenagers being questioned about their sexuality when they are applying for free bus passes?

That is the question being levelled by Labour politicians in North Lanarkshire who have for the second time in three weeks accused the Scottish National Party of having an "intrusive" approach into the lives of young people.

The questions are being levelled at over 16s who are being asked if they are gay, straight or bisexual in a survey with the chance of winning up to £250 of shopping vouchers. They are also quizzed about their sex with an option to state that they are 'non-binary' as part of a detailed questionnaire.

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The £132million scheme offers free bus travel to all people in Scotland aged 22 or under in a bid to encourage them to use public transport.

The disclosure comes amid a row over a schools survey that asked S4 to S6 pupils about their sexual experiences in a 'census' of their health and wellbeing – which will not be utilised in North Lanarkshire.

However, the latest Transport Scotland survey has already sparked a backlash from parents and campaigners in the authority.

Council Leader Jim Logue said: “It seems like only yesterday the SNP caused outrage amongst parents by attempting to issue a questionnaire to pupils with intrusive questions. Now we see yet another survey with highly personal questions with no obvious reason. We’ve seen before with the failed Named Persons legislation that the SNP seem to have a strange obsession with the private lives of families and children and it seems no lessons are being learned.

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“We welcome the bus pass but these highly personal questions are a step too far.”

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “The question on sexual orientation applies only to young people aged over 16 and there is an option not to answer. We ask this as part of our baseline survey as we want to understand if there are any barriers for young people from protected characteristics accessing public transport.

“Our initial research identified LGBTQ+ young people might be less inclined to use the bus for fear of homophobic and transphobic harassment.”

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