More than four in ten LGBTQI teachers in the UK have experienced homophobia, transphobia or biphobia at work in the past year according to teaching union, NASUWT.
The electronic survey carried out by NASUWT at its LGBTQI teachers’ consultation conference in Birmingham also found that 40 per cent of LGBTQI teachers had seen homophobia, biphobia or transphobia directed at their colleagues. At the same time, 17 per cent said they had seen this happen on “many occasions”.
Attended by 140 teachers on Saturday, the poll’s consultation noted that only 48 per cent of LGBTQI teachers felt safe or comfortable to be out to all staff, pupils and parents in their workplace. However, 13 per cent did not feel safe to be out at all to anyone in their school or college.
NASUWT’s acting general secretary, Chris Keates, said that the findings were “worrying” and noted the importance of upholding the right to work in a safe and unhostile environment.
“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,” he said
“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.”
The majority of LGBT+ teachers said they would feel comfortable reporting anti-LGBTQI incidents, but around 10 percent indicated they would not feel comfortable reporting anti-LGBTQI conflicts.
Twenty-three per cent of teachers also noted that LGBTQI staff would have to take responsibility for challenging anti-LGBTQI discrimination against employees.
“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,” Keates continued.
The UK has a recent history of backlash against the mainstreaming of LGBTQI equality information into schools after demonstrators protested in May last year against teaching primary school children that people of all genders and sexualities should be treated equally.
Protests took place for weeks at various schools across Birmingham over the adoption of a programme designed to teach children about characteristics protected by the Equality Act.
The No Outsiders programme, designed to promote LGBTQI equality and challenge homophobia in primary schools, formed part of sex and relationship education (SRE) lessons in some schools.
A group of parents – predominantly, though not exclusively, Muslims – have objected to their children being taught from the programme.
The protestors were later served with a high court injunction preventing the printing or distributing of leaflets, as well as banning congregations at school entrances or inviting people to join in protesting.
The Birmingham city council eventually made the application for the injunction following several weeks of protests outside Anderton Park primary school in the city, saying that the demonstrations increased “fears for the safety and wellbeing of the staff, children and parents.”