Education

LGBTQ+ teachers ‘failed’ by UK schools as six in 10 face discrimination at work

Lily Wakefield June 11, 2022
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Teacher holding up a book in front of her class of elementary school kids sitting on the floor in a classroom

More than three quarters of teachers surveyed felt that their school was not doing enough to promote LGBTQ+ equality. (Envato)

UK schools are “failing” LGBTQ+ teachers, the teachers’ union NASUWT has said, after a survey showed two thirds have faced discrimination at work.

On Saturday (11 June), the NASUWT’s LGBTQI Teachers’ Consultation Conference, with the theme “a better deal for LGBTQI teachers”, will examine how to tackle the increasing problem of discrimination and harassment directed at queer teachers.

According to research published ahead of the conference, almost two thirds (59 per cent) of LGBTQ+ teachers had faced discrimination, bullying and harassment at school because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Of these teachers, 68 per cent said the discrimination came from pupils, 49 per cent said it came from their colleagues, and 25 per cent said it came from parents. A further 25 per cent said they had been discriminated against by school leadership.

More than three quarters (76 per cent) of teachers surveyed felt that their school was not doing enough to promote LGBTQ+ equality, and 29 per cent said they were not confident that incidents of LGBTQ+ discrimination, bullying or harassment would be properly investigated if reported to their employer.

The proportion of LGBTQ+ teachers reporting discrimination at work is increasing, with the 2020 NASUWT survey showing that four in 10 queer teachers had faced this treatment.

NASUWT general secretary Dr Patrick Roach said in a statement: “School and college employers who are failing in their statutory duty to protect LGBTI teachers from discrimination, harassment and victimisation at work are breaking the law and they must be held to account.

“There must be a zero-tolerance approach to homophobia, biphobia and transphobia so that our schools and colleges are safe and secure places where teachers can teach and pupils can learn free from the threat of prejudice, abuse and violence.”

More than a quarter (26 per cent) of queer teachers said there were no mechanisms for reporting anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination in their schools, and Roach added that every single school or college should be putting in place these systems.

He continued: “It’s high time the government takes seriously the realities facing too many of our teachers and takes steps to ensure that LGBTI staff are included and respected at work.

“Providing pupils with an LGBTI-inclusive curriculum must also be an integral part of efforts to tackle the problem of prejudice and abuse in schools.”

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