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Education

Four in 10 UK LGBT teachers have experienced homophobia, biphobia or transphobia at work

Lily Wakefield February 26, 2020
LGBT teachers

One in 10 LGBT+ teachers said they would not feel comfortable reporting anti-LGBT+ incidents at work. (Envato)

More than four in 10 LGBT+ teachers in UK schools have personally experienced homophobia, biphobia or transphobia at work, teacher’s union NASUWT has found.

The union carried out a poll at its LGBTI teachers’ consultation conference, and also found that 40 percent of LGBT+ teachers had seen homophobia, biphobia or transphobia directed at their colleagues. 17 percent said they had seen this happen on “many occasions”.

Less than half of the LGBT+ teachers who responded said they felt safe to be out to all colleagues, pupils and parents at their school, and 13 percent did not feel safe being out to anyone at all at work.

NASUWT’s acting general secretary Chris Keates said: “While it was heartening to hear some of the examples of good practice and positive experiences shared at the conference by LGBTI teachers, it is worrying that discriminatory and prejudiced behaviours remain so commonplace in our schools.

“While being out at school or college is a personal choice, teachers should not feel uncomfortable or unsafe to be themselves in the workplace and no teacher should be facing abuse or hostility because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Although more than three quarters of LGBT+ teachers said they would feel comfortable reporting anti-LGBT+ incidents, one in ten said that they would not feel able to do so.

More than a quarter said that only LGBT+ staff would take responsibility for challenging anti-LGBT+ discrimination against employees at their school.

Keates added: “Schools should be safe environments where staff and students of all sexual and gender identities feel included and respected. Where LGBTI equality is not mainstreamed into the work of a school this is unlikely to be the case.

“We need greater support for schools in taking forward this work and action where schools do not promote a culture of inclusiveness.”

Teachers at the conference suggested that the best ways to tackle transphobia, biphobia and homophobia in schools were zero tolerance policies (42 percent) and an LGBT-inclusive curriculum (29 percent).

This week, a teacher blew the whistle on a school academy trust in England which has been maintaining a policy that bans the “promotion” of homosexuality, 17 years on from the repeal of Section 28.

The policy by the East Midlands Academy Trust, which runs ten schools across Milton Keynes, Northampton and Oundle, states: “The academy trust will not permit the promotion of homosexuality or bisexuality.”

The trust insisted that the policy was “old”, and that it had been planning a new one, to be revealed in April 2020.

More: biphobia, Education, Homophobia, LGBT teachers, LGBT-inclusive education, NASUWT, transphobia, UK schools

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