Research by the National Union of Teachers has revealed that the vast majority of their members hear the word gay used pejoratively on a regular basis.
Many felt that sexist and homophobic language was institutionally tolerated.
The study also revealed the high levels of sexist language being used in schools and that many female teachers are sexually harassed by pupils.
The experience of one female secondary school teacher is typical:
“At the end of a workshop, an argument broke out between a boy and a 15-year-old girl. He called her a “f—–g bitch”. She screamed back at him “Get f——d you queer c-t”
“The boy is regularly accused of being gay by other students. He lives his life under ‘suspicion’ of being homosexual.”
Many other teachers reported that words like gay, lesbian and queer are used by pupils as terms of abuse not neccesarily related to someone’s sexuality.
“‘Gay’ is commonly used as an insult and ‘lesbian’ is creeping in among girls,” reported one primary school teacher.
Teachers also reported they are asked about their sexuality by pupils.
Research from the Teachers Support Network last year showed that that 83 per cent of gay teachers and lecturers who responded have experienced homophobic harassment or discrimination at work.
That survey also revealed that 86% experienced this homophobic behaviour from pupils, 43% from colleagues, 40% from their managers, 14% from pupils’ parents.
The NUT’s “snap survey” found that nearly one in five primary teachers and two-thirds of secondary teachers have been subjected to sexually abusive language by pupils.
Almost 75% of secondary teachers and 30% of primary teachers have encountered such language being used by pupils against each other.
Around a fifth of primary teachers and nearly two-thirds of secondary teachers describe the language as sexist bullying.
One in 10 of the 190 teachers responding to the survey said they had experienced sexual harassment from pupils at some stage in their careers.
Schools Out, an organisation that has been working for equality for LGBT people in education since 1974, welcomed the research.
“I am really glad that the NUT has produced this report,” said Sue Sanders, co-chair of Schools Out.
“What it shows is the profound level of hetero-sexism and sexism in schools. There is basic work that needs to be done in schools that is not being done.”
Commenting on the reports findings about sexual bullying of teachers, Ms Sanders said:
“I am very frustrated of all the work that was done in the 80s that raised awareness of sexism has been forgotten.
“Every young woman teacher I talk to are says that they have to deal with an enormous amount of abuse from pupils and it is not being dealt with.”
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