Two-fifths of LGBT+ teachers 'face prejudice at work'

And less than half of teachers who identify as LGBT+ feel safe and comfortable being out at work, NASUWT poll finds

Catherine Lough

Teachers 'should better protect LGBT+ students' at school, says study

More than two-fifths of teachers who identify as LGBT+ have personally experienced homophobia, biphobia or transphobia at work during the past year, poll findings suggest.

And four in 10 LGBT+ teachers have witnessed homophobic, biphobic or transphobic abuse towards colleagues, according to the snap poll by the NASUWT teaching union.

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Meanwhile, 17 per cent of approximately 150 respondents to the real-time electronic poll of attendees at a NASUWT conference for LGBTI teachers said they had witnessed such incidents on many occasions.

Less than half (48 per cent) of the LGBT+ teachers at the Birmingham conference on Saturday reported feeling safe and comfortable to be out at work to all staff, pupils and parents. 

More than one in 10 (13 per cent) said they did not feel safe to be out to anyone at their school or college.

Chris Keates, acting general secretary of the NASUWT union, described the findings as "worrying" and called for action where "schools do not promote a culture of inclusiveness".

She said: “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."

“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.

“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 be to the case.

“We need greater support for schools in taking forward this work and action where schools do not promote a culture of inclusiveness.”

The poll also found that while the majority (77 per cent) of LGBT+ teachers would feel confident about reporting abuse to their employer, one in 10 would not have the confidence to do so.

Some teachers felt the burden of challenging homophobic, biphobic or transphobic abuse fell on LGBT+ teachers themselves.

Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of those polled said it would be left to LGBT+ staff to challenge prejudice in their school, although 44 per cent reported that senior leaders would take responsibility for challenging prejudice.

Four in 10 of those polled (42 per cent) also reported that a zero-tolerance policy towards homophobic, biphobic and transphobic abuse was the most important step schools could take to ensure they are inclusive for LGBT+ teachers and pupils, while 29 per cent said having an LGBT+ inclusive curriculum was the most important step schools and colleges could take.

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author bio

Catherine Lough

Catherine Lough is a reporter at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @CathImogenLough

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