Workplace discrimination against LGBTI teachers in New South Wales is widespread, according to a new study conducted by Western Sydney University and the NSW Teachers Federation.
More than 1,000 LGBTI teachers participated in the study, which has called on the Department of Education to adopt policies that overtly acknowledge LGBTI people and to train school leaders in the area of sexual and gender diversity.
The most commonly reported instances involved discriminatory comments from school staff and students, with only one quarter of participants reporting them to supervisors or senior staff.
Dr Jacqueline Ullman, who presented the study at the NSW Teachers Federation conference this week, said teachers who were further away from metropolitan environments were more likely to report discrimination.
“[Teachers] spoke about the challenges to be out or not at school and the significant impacts of this decision,” she said.
“Some spoke about feeling as if their credibility could be called into question by members of the school community.”
Other forms of reported discrimination in the study included bullying behaviours, the denial of professional opportunities, and a lack of school support. The greatest impact of these experiences was on the teacher’s psychological wellbeing, with one third of participants reporting that they had sought external support to assist in coping with these effects.
Federation President Maurie Mulheron said the current situation was unacceptable.
“The Department has a responsibility to provide safe and supportive workplaces for all teachers, and this study indicates that current teacher wellbeing policies do not sufficiently account for the specific needs of LGBTI staff,” he said.
Federation has said it plans to address the issue with the Department in the immediate future.