It is now easier to be an out LGBT police officer than an out LGBT teacher, the co-founder of UK LGBT History Month has said.
The warning follows demonstrations about LGBT content in lessons outside two Birmingham primary schools.
Sue Sanders, who chairs the Schools Out UK charity, which aims to make schools safer places for LGBT people, was speaking at the Trades Union Congress’ LGBT conference yesterday.
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She said: “For teachers to be out and proud as lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans is a real challenge.
“Ironically, since the Stephen Lawrence report, it is probably easier to be out as an LGBT+ police officer than it is as a teacher.
Guidance over LGBT lessons
“Now, if anybody had told me that 20 years ago, I’d have just laughed in their faces, but that is where we are at. We still get calls from people who say they don’t feel comfortable to be out.”
Jennifer Moses, the national officer for equality and training at the NASUWT teaching union, raised concerns about the flexibility that schools have about how and when to teach pupils about LGBT relationships.
She was speaking after Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman called for schools to be given “more specificity” about the LGBT issues they are required to teach.
Ms Moses said: “The government’s approach to this means that schools have a lot of autonomy about how they deliver this important piece of education, so it’s at the whim of heads and governors what they consider to be age-appropriate; for example, for primary-age pupils in terms of delivering it in the context of a broad and balanced curriculum.
“This then, we feel, allows too much flexibility and too much local decision for individual schools on this important issue relating to sex and sexuality.”
She also added her voice to criticism of the amount of government funding allocated for 2019-20 “for a school support package to cover training and resources” before the new guidance becomes statutory in September 2020.
She said the £6 million announced in February equated to £250 per school, and added: “That is a measly amount of money and those of you who are in education will know that that will go nowhere.”
A DfE spokesperson said: “We are investing up to £6 million this financial year in developing training, tools and materials which schools can use to teach Relationship Education; Relationship and Sex Education and Health Education
"This funding is not per school – this amount is to help develop a range of tools and materials that will be provided to schools to support teaching of the new curriculum.
"Funding for subsequent years will depend on the settlement in the spending review.”