Off the fence and out of the closet

3rd November 1995 at 00:00
I giggled out loud at the snippet in the diary about the School's Out campaign to persuade the National Union of Teachers to improve its support for lesbian and gay members - and at Nigel de Gruchy's apparent inability to cope with even the concept of lesbian and gay teachers (TES, October 20). However, I was puzzled by the suggestion that our proposals for an annual lesbian and gay teachers' conference (TES, October 29) would "embarrass" the NUT.

I may be naive, but I've always thought of the NUT as the one teachers' union with a genuine belief in promoting equal opportunities and opposing discrimination. That's why I joined it, along with most lesbian and gay teachers.

The measures put forward in the School's Out motion are designed to be inexpensive and effective. In particular, our plea that the NUT comes off the fence and finally commits itself to supporting teachers who come out as lesbian or gay at school will provide a real boost - both to those of us who are already open about our sexual orientation with pupils and parents, and to those who fear the possible consequences of taking that step.

Only in the armed services and in schools does there remain an apparent nervousness about simply admitting that thousands of lesbian and gay people are good at their jobs.

I don't want teaching to be the one occupation in which we still have to stay in the closet - and I sincerely hope that is a feeling shared by the vast majority of my NUT colleagues, gay and straight.

GEOF ELLINGHAM BM School's Out London WC1N 3XX

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