Archive for the ‘National’ Category

Young Scots call for Equal Marriage

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

It’s been two years since the Scottish Youth Parliament launched Love Equally.  In those two years our campaign has gone from a ‘wedding’ outside Parliament to a Bill which promises to give every couple the chance to get married, whether they are mixed-sex or same-sex. It’s been a big challenge.  We’ve faced a well-funded and controversial opposition.  But those obstacles were nothing compared to the two huge advantages we have. The fact that the vast majority of young Scots believe in Equal Marriage, and the undeniable case we’ve presented.  Despite two years of campaigning, no one has yet been able to come up with a good reason why love is less important than the old-fashioned idea of only mixed-sex marriages.

SYP Equal Marriage March (Small)

Today is important because it marks the last chance for evidence to be submitted for the Bill.  Of course, SYP have been part of the process for some time.  We helped secure over 20,000 responses to the first consultation in 2011, and have continued to work closely with our brilliant marriage equality campaigning partners, the Equality Network, Stonewall Scotland, LGBT Youth Scotland, NUS Scotland, at every stage to ensure this is a good Bill.

For today we’ve been involved in two great pieces of work.  Firstly, we’ve worked with a range of children’s organisations to submit a joint letter to the Scottish Parliament.  SYP, along with LGBT Youth Scotland, SCCYP, YouthLink Scotland and Children in Scotland have all signed the letter supporting Equal Marriage . The full letter can be read here, but the key paragraph says:

“We are writing to you on behalf of five children and young people’s organisations to express our support for the provisions in the Marria

ge and Civil Partnership Bill for equal marriage in Scotland. We believe that the Bill will play a significant role in advancing equality in Scotland and creating the country our children and young people wish to see.”

Along with the letter, SYP has also submitted a detailed consultation response on the Bill itself.  You can read the full response here – but the key points are:

  • The Scottish Youth Parliament believes that two people who love each other should be able to get married. The law in Scotland should be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry if they want to do so.
  • The Scottish Youth Parliament agrees that belief marriage ceremonies should be established as a distinct type of ceremony from religious and civil marriages.
  • The Scottish Youth Parliament believes that if religious organisations want to perform same-sex marriages and civil partnerships, they should be allowed to do so. We understand that not every religious institution would want to do this, however we believe it should be a matter for them to decide, with appropriate legal protections put in place to protect this freedom in accordance with their own decision-making processes. However, we also firmly believe that religious institutions that wish to conduct same-sex marriages and civil partnerships should not be prevented from doing so by law and should have the ability to decide this for themselves, in accordance with their own decision-making processes.
  • The Scottish Youth Parliament supports the introduction of the option of a gender-neutral form of words for same-sex marriage ceremonies, and recommends this option be extended to mixed-sex couples who would prefer it.
  • The Scottish Youth Parliament is content with the proposed process for changing a civil partnership to a marriage.
  • Couples who have registered a civil partnership outside Scotland should be allowed to get married without dissolving their partnership.
  • The Scottish Youth Parliament welcomes the commitment to end the current situation where transgender people must divorce in order to obtain gender recognition.
  • The Scottish Youth Parliament agrees that no new legislation is necessary specifically relating to education and same-sex marriage.
  • The Scottish Youth Parliament believes that mixed-sex couples should be allowed to register a civil partnership if they wish.

Of course, this is not the end of our involvement.  Next month we’ll be giving evidence in person to the Scottish Parliament’s Equal Opportunities Committee on the Bill, and we’ll continue to work with our partners, the Parliament and the Scottish Government to ensure a really good Bill is passed. You can help to by emailing your local MSP and getting them to pledge their support for the Bill.  Of course, if they have already, send them a note to thank them for doing so.  The Equality Network have a great resource here to do so.

Love Equally has been a journey for SYP.  But we’re much closer to the end than the beginning.  Let’s all work together to keep the pressure up.  Because working together we can make a better, fairer, and more equal Scotland, where love is the most important thing for marriage.


SYP and NUS Scotland welcome Votes at 16 for the Scottish Independence Referendum

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

SYP celebrate lowering of the voting age to 16

Today, Thursday 27th June 2013, the Scottish Independence Referendum (Franchise) Bill passed Stage Three at the Scottish Parliament.  The Bill was backed by 103 MSPs, and received support in the debate from MSPs from the Scottish National Party, Scottish Labour, Scottish Liberal Democrats, and Scottish Green Party.

The Bill makes provision for 16 and 17-year-olds to be eligible to vote in the Referendum on Scottish Independence next September.  This will be the first time 16-year-olds will be able to vote in a national referendum in the United Kingdom.


Grant Costello MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, says:


“It’s fantastic to see so many MSPs today backing votes at 16.  SYP are grateful to both the Scottish and UK Governments, as well as opposition politicians in Scotland, who have worked together to give Scotland’s young people this chance.


“With the Franchise Bill now passed by the Scottish Parliament, young people can start looking forward to voting next September. When the referendum is held, Scotland will decide whether it wishes to become independent or not – and Scotland’s young people will help to determine Scotland’s future.  I’m sure they will take this chance, and prove beyond all doubt that the voting age should be lowered to 16 for all elections.”


Gordon Maloney, Vice President Communities and President-elect of NUS Scotland, says:

“This is a momentous day for young people across Scotland. NUS Scotland has campaigned for many years, with students and young people across the country, for the right to vote for 16 and 17 year olds, and we are delighted to see this become a reality for the forthcoming referendum.


“The referendum vote will be one of the most important questions ever faced by the people of Scotland, which is why it’s so crucial that our young people, the future of this country, can have a say in the outcome. We will be working to ensure that all voters in the referendum have the information and tools they need to take part in this historic vote.


“We know that that 16 and 17 year olds are ready to engage in democracy and are passionate about having a say in their future, and we hope that this can be the first step towards votes at 16 for all elections in Scotland, and across the UK.”

Why SYP is backing @Glasgow2018

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

YOG-24-Glasgow-Life-Ad-700x250 (2)

Kyle Thornton, MSYP for Glasgow Southside and SYP Vice-Chair

With less than 50 days to go until the Olympic Committee makes it’s final decision, it’s time for everyone in Scotland to get behind Glasgow’s bid for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games.

The next few years are going to see Scotland showcased to the sporting world.  Next year’s Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup will give Scots the chance to see some of the worlds finest sports stars.  At the same time we’ll be able to welcome thousands of visitors to Scotland, showcasing our culture, landscape, and of course our hospitality.  It should be amazing.

Some people might say that’s enough exposure – but that’s like saying having ice-cream once is enough.  Instead of sitting back we should see this as an opportunity.  It’s a chance to bolster our sporting culture, to build upon our infrastructure, and to brazenly promote Scotland again.

That’s why SYP is supporting Glasgow’s bid for the Youth Olympic Games in 2018. These games would be a great opportunity to show of Glasgow, but just as importantly to put young people at the very heart of a major event.

For those of you who maybe aren’t sports fanatics a wee bit of background.  The Youth Olympic Games (YOG) is an international sporting event for the best young athletes in the world that aims to inspire young people to participate in sport and adopt and live by the Olympic values. Young athletes (15-18 years of age) compete in all 28 Olympic sports over 12 days of world-class competition.

The case for Glasgow is incredibly strong.  All the venues and infrastructure are already in place, and of course we have the fantastic Olympic legacy from London 2012 to build on as well.  Perhaps as importantly from SYP’s perspective is how youth-led the process has been.  Glasgow’s bid was the first to be presented only by young people, and Jasmine Main and Mahad Ahmed, the Bid’s 2018 Young Champions, personally delivered the bid document to IOC headquarters.

Of course, this isn’t just backed by young people.  Olympic superstats Sir Chris Hoy, Katherine Grainger, Jade Jones and Michael Jamieson are all Bid Champions and working to raise awareness for the campaign.

So we have a great chance to support Scotland, support young people, and show off Scotland’s greatest sporting city.  That’s why we’re encouraging young people to ‘Back our Bid’ by visiting and clicking on the button.  For more information you can also follow them on Twitter@Glasgow2018 and on Facebook at

Kyle Thornton: It’s time for young people to stand up and get involved in Scotland’s planning system #placemakers

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

©DN AndersonThe Planning System is one of those rare things that has the power to both unite communities and create discord. However, while the process may frustrate many of us, young people are consistently missing from the picture. You may say, “so what?” but decisions made by planners can have a massive impact on young people. Speaking up on behalf of projects that help create jobs for young people, speaking up to raise concerns about where a building is located, about how it will look, about whether something should be built at all – these are all things that young people are passionate about but far too many just don’t know how to get involved.

Speaking up for what you and other young people believe in is so important. As an elected Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament, I represent 12-25 year-olds in my constituency in Glasgow Southside and my role is to represent them to decision makers. I know the power of being in the room, talking about what really matters and how simply by letting those in charge know what young people think, it can make a real difference to their decisions. You can’t beat the feeling of seeing a real change that you worked hard to see put in place

So, if you want to speak up for young people and learning more about how to get involved in planning, Planning Aid in Scotland are launching their young placemakers programme. This will see 12 young people from across Scotland, 16-20, trained up to speak out for their local communities on how their village, town or city should look like. This is a fantastic opportunity to meet other young people and make a real difference to where you live in.

There are also the benefits for you of being a young placemaker. Not only do you meet other likeminded people and get to go out into your local area talking with young people but you get a unique experience. With only 12 placemakers, you’ll have a unique set of skills from being part of the three year program that many others will find hard to rival.

I would also urge every applicant to join their local Community Council. They are the forum for your local community and they must be consulted on planning and licensing applications, the only community organisations in Scotland with this right. As a Young Community Councillor and Chair of my community council, I know you’ll be a fantastic asset to your local community by joining your community council.  Every member of the public has a right to attend their meetings and if you’re 16+, you can join as a community councillor.

Planning is at the heart of much of what happens where we live. It’s time for young people to stand up and claim their place in the process, apply to be a placemaker today!

Kyle Thornton MSYP

Kyle is Vice Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament. The 18 Year-Old from Glasgow is the elected MSYP for Glasgow Southside, re-elected for a second term in March 2013. A student at Glasgow University, he is currently studying Politics/Economics and takes a keen interest in current affairs. Kyle takes a particular interest in health, education and community engagement and is an active community councillor.


Over 67,000 young people vote in SYP National Elections 2013

Friday, March 29th, 2013

Grant CostelloToday, Friday 29th March 2013, the Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP) can announce the full results of the Scottish Youth Parliament National Elections 2013.  The elections were held between the 2nd and 15th of March, with results being announced by individual local authorities from the 15th through to the 28th of March.

These were the first SYP elections to be held in all 32 Local Authorities at the same time.  Over the two week election period a total of 67,071 young people voted – enough to fill Scotland’s biggest stadium Murrayfield. They elected 142 Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYP).

The newly elected MSYPs, representing every Scottish Parliamentary constituency, will take up office at the Scottish Youth Parliament’s National Sitting at the end of June.


Grant Costello MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, says

Grant Costello MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, says
“My congratulations to all of the newly elected MSYPs.  Standing for election can be scary, but for the successful candidates the reward is having the chance to stand up and be the voice of young Scots.  The success of the elections is down to all the fantastic young people who campaigned hard to be elected, and convinced over 67,000 of their peers to vote.  It’s a great reply to those who claim young people don’t care about politics.

“These elections have also been an enormous success for the Scottish Youth Parliament, capping a sensational twelve months.  In the last year we’ve seen the Scottish Government create bills for Equal Marriage and Votes at 16 in the Independence Referendum.  This election gives our new MSYPs a real mandate from Scotland’s young people to keep on campaigning for the fairer and more equal Scotland the Scottish Youth Parliament wants to make a reality.”


A full list of the newly elected MSYPs can be found at

Four constituencies (Galloway and West Dumfries, Cunninghame North, Skye Lochaber and Badenoch and Na h-Eileanan an Iar) only had one candidate stand for election.  The Local Authorities will endeavor to run by-elections in the next few months to fill the vacant seats.

Deputy First Minister Launches SYP National Elections 2013

Saturday, March 2nd, 2013

SYP celebrate lowering of the voting age to 16.

Today, Saturday March 2nd at 16:00, the Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, along with Scottish Youth Parliament Chair Grant Costello MSYP, and the full membership of the Scottish Youth Parliament, formally launched the SYP National Elections 2013 outside the Scottish Parliament.


These will be the biggest youth elections ever run in Scotland.  Candidates are standing in all 32 Scottish Local Authorities.  Over 280 young people will spend the next two weeks canvassing, campaigning, and convincing young people aged 12-25 across Scotland to vote for them as the voice of Scotland’s young people.  In the 2011 elections over 84,000 votes were cast – making this one of the largest youth participation events in Europe.


The elections will be launched immediately following the conclusion of the Scottish Youth Parliament’s 50th National Sitting – being held on the 1st-2nd of March at the Scottish Parliament.


Grant Costello MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, says


“The last two years have been the most successful in the history of the Scottish Youth Parliament.  We have taken the issues which matter to young people, on Equal Marriage, Votes at 16, and the Scottish Living Wage, and made Scotland’s leaders listen and act.


“It’s now time for a new membership to be elected.  For the first time MSYPs will be elected from every Local Authority in Scotland.  We’ve had more interest from young people than ever before, more candidates than ever before, and I am sure we’re going to have an even stronger membership elected this time.


“That’s crucial, because the challenges facing Scotland’s young people are enormous.  It’s the job of MSYPs to stand up for young people, both locally and nationally, to ensure their voice is heard.  That’s why, as we launch this election at the heart of Scottish democracy, I hope as many young people as possible take the time to vote, to ensure we have the best MSYPs, and can keep on standing up for Scotland’s young people.”


Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:


“It is through youth work and youth participation organisations like the Scottish Youth Parliament, that hundreds of thousands of young people across Scotland are accessing a wide range of activities that help them to build knowledge, capacity and skills in preparation for further learning and employment.


“We want to make sure that our young people today have the right to engage in Scotland’s democratic process.  We want to give them the right to voice their views  freely and confidently on all matters that affect them.  We believe 16 and 17 year olds should be able to vote in all elections.  And we will be ensuring that they can vote in the referendum on Scotland’s future next year.


“With the launch today of the SYP National Elections, and voting due to take place all over Scotland until 15 March – it is an exciting dawn for many young people who will join as MSYPs  – and an exciting future for us all. ”


Candidate manifestos and more information can be found at

#SYP50 – Kyle Thornton – Opening Speech Saturday

Saturday, March 2nd, 2013

Good morning,

Welcome back to Day 2 of SYP’s 50th Sitting.

We had a fantastic first day yesterday and congratulations to all of last night’s award winners.

Over the last two years, we’ve achieved so much more than we could have ever imagined. MSYPs working hard across the country have been at the heart of delivering the change we want to see from getting the Scottish & UK Governments to support same-sex marriage, to helping thousands of Scotland’s lowest paid workers and to the crowning achievement of Votes at 16 in the referendum which will give, for the first time ever, thousands of young Scots their right to vote and hopefully will be the start of giving 16 and 17 year olds the vote in all UK elections and referendums. We’ve all been a part of these national achievements and we should be proud that we’re here two years later having made a massive impact on our country and having done what we promised those who voted for us we would do – make real change in Scotland.

For me personally, this term has been incredibly exciting. Going from Point of Order Lover and chief procedural nightmare to Vice Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament has been an absolute honour and I want to thank you all for your support throughout my term as Vice Chair. Leading an organisation of young people so committed to achieving real change has given me the motivation not just to work as hard as I can for SYP but to stand for re-election in my constituency and to be a lifelong campaigner for what I believe in. If that’s what SYP has done for me, imagine the inspiration and motivation that our work has given to young people across Scotland.

It’s not just nationally where we’ve achieved. As Vice Chair I’ve seen the fantastic work that goes in in local areas. I’ve been proud to recognise our Local Champions in the Vice Chair update and from my own local work in Glasgow, I’ve seen the real difference we can make in our local areas for the young people we represent.

Over the last two years, I’ve had the privilege of working with you all and I want to add my thank you for your dedication, hard work and friendship.

But we still have a whole day of activities left.

In a moment, I’m going to introduce Lord McConnell, but I just want to say that what we’ve done in our term is just the beginning and it’s our duty, whether re-elected or standing down, to continue to campaign for what we believe in and to continue to work together for a better Scotland for everyone.

Can I now welcome to the stage, Scotland’s former first minister….*INSERT JM BIO*…Lord McConnell.

Committee take forward MSYP Petitions #SYP50

Friday, March 1st, 2013

ctte1Committee take forward MSYP Petitions


Today, Friday 1st March 2013, Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYPs) presented three petitions to the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee.


  • Petition PE1471 by Rachael McCully (MSYP for East Kilbride) on the establishment of young people’s wards in hospitals
  • Petition PE1467 by Andrew McGowan (MSYP      for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire) on a scheme to recognise employers      who pay the living wage;
  • Petition PE1470 by Lauren King (MSYP      for Motherwell and Wishaw) which calls on the Scottish Government to      establish a young carers grant for carers in full-time education or under      the age of 18; and

Andrew Deans (MSYP for Angus North and Mearns) also gave evidence on use of discriminatory ‘Mosquito’ devices (PE1367).


The Petitions Committee discussed all four petitions in detail.  They agreed to take further evidence on all four petitions; and Convenor David Stewart praised all four petitioners for the presentations and evidence they put forward.


are delighted the committee will consider in more depth the petition from Andrew McGowan, for a Scottish Living Wage Recognition Scheme.  This is a key element of SYP’s National Campaign, One Fair Wage – and SYP believes its introduction can encourage many more businesses to pay their workers no less than the Scottish Living Wage.


Speaking after the committee meeting, Andrew McGowan MSYP, Lead Petitioner for the Scottish Living Wage Recognition Scheme, said:

“I’m very grateful to the Committee for taking the time to consider the Scottish Youth Parliament’s petition for a Scottish Living Wage Recognition Scheme, and for the positive reception the petition received.

“There is no doubt this scheme is required.  Despite the good work done on the Living Wage in the public sector, there are still tens of thousands of low-paid workers in the private sector.

“That’s why this Scottish Living Wage Recognition Scheme is so important.  We believe it will encourage good employers to adopt a Living Wage, provide a robust test to ensure employers really do pay these rates, and allow consumers to distinguish between employers who pay a fair wage and those who don’t.


“At a time where prices are rising, where employers hold all the aces on pay, and where many workers are just grateful to have a job, it’s up to the Scottish Government to do more.  This scheme could help thousands of low-paid Scots who deserve no less than the Scottish Living Wage.  That’s why we are so delighted the Petitions Committee are looking at this so seriously, and we hope will be able to progress this further in the future. ”

Scottish Youth Parliament hold 50th National Sitting at the Scottish Parliament #SYP50

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Tomorrow, Friday 1st of March and Saturday, 2nd March, the Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP) will be holding its 50th National Sitting at the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh.

This sitting will give Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYPs) the chance to speak in, and directly engage with the Scottish Parliament.  On Friday morning three MSYPs will be presenting new petitions to the Public Petitions Committee :

  • Petition PE1471 by Rachael McCully (MSYP for East Kilbride) on the establishment of young people’s wards in hospitals
  • Petition PE1467 by Andrew McGowan (MSYP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire) on a scheme to recognise employers who pay the living wage;
  • Petition PE1470 by Lauren King (MSYP for Motherwell and Wishaw) which calls on the Scottish Government to establish a young carers grant for carers in full-time education or under the age of 18; and

Andrew Deans (MSYP for Angus North and Mearns) will also be giving evidence on use of discriminatory ‘Mosquito’ devices (PE1367).

MSYPs will then debate what the priority steps should be for tackling Youth Employment.  After lunch there will be four debates by young people, discussing if prisoners should be given the right to vote, on the affordability of universal benefits, on whether Scotland’s state education system should be non-denominational, and whether marijuana should be legalised in Scotland.

On Saturday 2nd March in the morning MSYPs will hear from former First Minister Lord McConnell.  They will then hold subject committee meetings, and take part in a series of development and training sessions.  In the afternoon Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will be giving the closing address, after which she will launch the Scottish Youth Parliament’s National Elections 2013 outside the Scottish Parliament.

Grant Costello MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, says:

“It’s absolutely brilliant that the Scottish Youth Parliament will celebrate its 50th National Sitting at the heart of Scottish democracy.  This sitting provides a chance for Scotland’s young representatives to hear from, and engage directly with, our political system.

“In particular the session with the Public Petitions Committee shows how SYP provides young people with the opportunity to bring forward proposals which can make a real difference to Scotland.  Of course we are also very much looking forward to hearing from Nicola Sturgeon MSP, Lord McConnell, and the other senior politicians and third sector leaders who are attending. However, what’s most important is this chance to show just how eager Scotland’s young people are to engage in discussing the key challenges facing Scotland today.”



Over 30,000 votes cast in national anti-knife crime project We-CTV 2012/13 #wectv

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Wectv Logo



The Scottish Youth Parliament have today announced the ten finalists who will attend the We-CTV Premiere Awards Ceremony being held on the 20th of March in Glasgow’s Science Centre.

‘We-CTV’ is a project funded by No Knives, Better Lives and delivered by the Scottish Youth Parliament. The project sees young people aged between 11-16 produce their own two-minute films highlighting both the dangers of knife-crime and discouraging their peers from picking up a knife.

Now in its third year, We-CTV is a national competition with young people from all parts of Scotland encouraged to submit a story board with their ideas. Twenty successful groups from across Scotland were chosen to go through to the next stage of the project.

Those twenty films have now been assessed by the largest number of votes cast in the competitions history.  32,956 votes were cast by members of the public who chose their favourite films.  The films have collectively been viewed nearly 13,000 times on YouTube.  These facts show how We-CTV is continuing to go from strength to strength.

The five successful groups from Region 1 (North-East-Central) are:

Alva Academy; Auchmuty High School; Glenrothes High School;  St Aidan’s High School; The Ripple Project.

The five successful groups from Region 2 (West) are:

Castlehead High School; Irvine Royal Academy; Our Lady and St Patrick’s High School; St Andrew’s Academy; Stewarton Academy.

Speaking today, Scottish Youth Parliament Chair Grant Costello said:

“It’s fantastic to see so many people watching and voting on the great films produced for We-CTV 2012/13.  When I viewed the films I thought they were all of a very high quality, and I know the judges will have a very tough job selecting the best film from this incredibly impressive shortlist.

“Now in its third year, We-CTV is a fantastic youth-led project which is going from strength to strength. We-CTV gives young people the creative space and the tools they need, allowing them to get to grips with a serious issue which sadly that affects thousands of Scots every year.  I’m very excited by this year’s entries, and I can’t wait for the final next month.”