Still an awful lot of men. Image: Lionel Nathan de Rothschild.
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How many female MPs do we have now?

This election's seen the biggest increase since 1997 - but it's still not speeding us towards equality. 

Last night, for a brief moment, we only had two MPs: both in Sunderland, both women, and both Labour. Sadly, on the second point at least, it was all downhill from there. 

Earlier this week we predicted an increase of 45 female MPs this election on last time's total of 148. This was reliant on a roughly hung parliament between Labour and the Conservatives - something that hasn't happened. Instead, we've had an increase of 43, bringing the total to 191. 

This will leave us with a 29 per cent female party, an increase on 2010's 23 per cent: 

The lion's share of these female MPs - 99, so over half-  are Labour, making up 43 per cent of their seats. One (Caroline Lucas) is Green, 20 are SNP, and there's one each for Plaid Cymru, Independents and SDLP. The Conservative party, which will sit as the majority party in government, has 68 female MPs, who will make up only 21 per cent of their parliamentary party. Ukip, the DUP, and the Liberal Democrats have no female MPs at all.

So is this an impressive leap historically? In terms of raw numbers, yes: 

It's the biggest rise in female representation we've had since Labour stormed the 1997 election alongside 60 new female MPs. The increase this year is, once again, largely thanks to Labour's reliance on all-female shortlists. As a party, they're nearing 50 per cent female representation.

Yet even if we added 30 new female MPs every five years from now on, it will take us until 2035 for the proportion of women to hit 51 per cent (the proportion of women in the UK as a whole). And this type of rise every year is very unlikely: no parties except Labour and the SNP have voted to use all-female shortlists, and progress is sure to be slower without them.

There's also the incumbency effect: any MPs voted in before the mid-90s are far, far less likely to be women, and at this election only about 30 per cent of seats had any chance of changing hands. 

This piece is based on best estimates as of 1pm this afternoon, with seven seats still to announce. We will confirm all figures with official Parliament data later this afternoon. 

To campaign for better female representation in parliament, you can sign the 50:50 Parliament petition here

Barbara Speed is comment editor at the i, and was technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman, and a staff writer at CityMetric.

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"We repealed, then forgot": the long shadow of Section 28 homophobia

Why are deeply conservative views about the "promotion" of homosexuality still being reiterated to Scottish school pupils? 

Grim stories of LGBTI children being bullied in school are all too common. But one which emerged over the weekend garnered particular attention - because of the echoes of the infamous Section 28, nearly two decades after it was scrapped.

A 16-year-old pupil of a West Lothian school, who does not wish to be named, told Pink News that staff asked him to remove his small rainbow pride badge because, though they had "no problem" with his sexuality, it was not appropriate to "promote it" in school. It's a blast from the past - the rules against "promoting" homosexuality were repealed in 2000 in Scotland, but the long legacy of Section 28 seems hard to shake off. 

The local authority responsible said in a statement that non-school related badges are not permitted on uniforms, and says it is "committed to equal rights for LGBT people". 

The small badge depicted a rainbow-striped heart, which the pupil said he had brought back from the Edinburgh Pride march the previous weekend. He reportedly "no longer feels comfortable going to school", and said homophobia from staff members felt "much more scar[y] than when I encountered the same from other pupils". 

At a time when four Scottish party leaders are gay, and the new Westminster parliament included a record number of LGBTQ MPs, the political world is making progress in promoting equality. But education, it seems, has not kept up. According to research from LGBT rights campaigners Stonewall, 40 per cent of LGBT pupils across the UK reported being taught nothing about LGBT issues at school. Among trans students, 44 per cent said school staff didn’t know what "trans" even means.

The need for teacher training and curriculum reform is at the top of campaigners' agendas. "We're disappointed but not surprised by this example," says Jordan Daly, the co-founder of Time for Inclusive Education [TIE]. His grassroots campaign focuses on making politicians and wider society aware of the reality LGBTI school students in Scotland face. "We're in schools on a monthly basis, so we know this is by no means an isolated incident." 

Studies have repeatedly shown a startling level of self-harm and mental illness reported by LGBTI school students. Trans students are particularly at risk. In 2015, Daly and colleagues began a tour of schools. Shocking stories included one in which a teacher singled out a trans pupils for ridicule in front of the class. More commonly, though, staff told them the same story: we just don't know what we're allowed to say about gay relationships. 

This is the point, according to Daly - retraining, or rather the lack of it. For some of those teachers trained during the 1980s and 1990s, when Section 28 prevented local authorities from "promoting homosexuality", confusion still reigns about what they can and cannot teach - or even mention in front of their pupils. 

The infamous clause was specific in its homophobia: the "acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship" could not be mentioned in schools. But it's been 17 years since the clause was repealed in Scotland - indeed, it was one of the very first acts of the new Scottish Parliament (the rest of the UK followed suit three years later). Why are we still hearing this archaic language? 

"We repealed, we clapped and cheered, and then we just forgot," Daly says. After the bitter campaign in Scotland, in which an alliance of churches led by millionaire businessman Brian Souter poured money into "Keeping the Clause", the government was pleased with its victory, which seemed to establish Holyrood as a progressive political space early on in the life of the parliament. But without updating the curriculum or retraining teaching staff, Daly argues, it left a "massive vacuum" of uncertainty. 

The Stonewall research suggests a similar confusion is likely across the UK. Daly doesn't believe the situation in Scotland is notably worse than in England, and disputes the oft-cited allegation that the issue is somehow worse in Scotland's denominational schools. Homophobia may be "wrapped up in the language of religious belief" in certain schools, he says, but it's "just as much of a problem elsewhere. The TIE campaign doesn't have different strategies for different schools." 

After initial disappointments - their thousands-strong petition to change the curriculum was thrown out by parliament in 2016 - the campaign has won the support of leaders such as Nicola Sturgeon and Kezia Dugdale, and recently, the backing of a majority of MSPs. The Scottish government has set up a working group, and promised a national strategy. 

But for Daly, who himself struggled at a young age with his sexuality and society's failure to accept it, the matter remains an urgent one.  At just 21, he can reel off countless painful stories of young LGBTI students - some of which end in tragedy. One of the saddest elements of the story from St Kentigern's is that the pupil claimed his school was the safest place he had to express his identity, because he was not out at home. Perhaps for a gay pupil in ten years time, that will be a guarantee. 

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