Transgender teacher forced out of work, told to ‘think of the children’
A school in Australia is facing allegations that it discriminated against a teacher because she started transitioning.
High school teacher Blaise Harris began her transition to female in 2014 – starting to grow out her hair, take female hormones, and seeking to change her legal name and gender.
But Ms Harris, who taught at Cessnock High School in New South Wales for three years prior to transitioning, said that the school abruptly stopped offering her work – after the head warned that her gender “might be a problem” for her working there.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, she took her complaint to the Department of Education, but was stunned when a senior official sided with the school and declined to take action.
The senior manager told her: “I don’t have a problem with what the school did at all. You have to think of the children.”
Ms Harris is now bringing a case against both the school and the department via the Anti-Discrimination Board, which has accepted her case for adjudication. She is seeking an apology and compensation.
The teacher said that at one point during the disagreement she became so depressed that she came off hormones and decided to return to work as a man, before realising it would be unbearable to return to her old life.
She told the Herald: “I thought at the time, I can’t take on the department, they’re bloody massive, it would be easier to change me.
“Then I changed back and sank into depression again, until I basically realised no – I’m not going to do this, I’m going to be who I want to be.
“I don’t see how me having boobs and wearing a dress to work because that’s how I want to be, I don’t see how that negatively impacts on anyone else’s life.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Education said it would respond to the Anti-Discrimination Board case in due course, adding: “Schools are committed to diversity in the workforce and to non-discriminatory environments.”