LGBT teachers and other education professionals are suffering huge problems with discrimination at work from both colleagues and pupils, according to a report from the Teacher Support Network.
The survey by the UK’s leading charity for teacher well-being shows over two-thirds have witnessed homophobic harassment and just under half have been personally discriminated against because of their sexual orientation.
Almost of those polled were harassed by their colleagues and over two-thirds were discriminated against by their students.
The report also reveals that two-thirds of staff in schools do not feel adequately prepared to teach same-sex marriage and LGBT related issues, preventing an open and tolerant environment for teachers and students.
Julian Stanley, Chief Executive of the Teacher Support Network, said: ‘The focus of LGBT policy in schools has tended to be on students, but teachers need to be equally supported. The Government has introduced new legislation but how do we translate this into positive action in schools?
‘It is important that schools have appropriate policies and practical training in place so all teachers are able to offer support and teach LGBT issues. Creating a non-discriminative and supportive environment will enable staff facing discrimination to seek help, but more importantly that all staff, whatever their sexual orientation, are treated with respect.’
The survey revealed that over a third of teachers felt that LGBT discrimination had reduced their confidence and self-esteem, with 20% saying that it has made them consider leaving the organisation or even the profession altogether.
An LGBT teacher quoted by the report said: ‘I will be holding an assembly on gay and lesbian marriage this week. It’s vital to make students aware of the importance of equality for all and by mentioning my wedding, I am able to be a role model for gay people being happy in a committed relationship, just like anyone else.
‘I did get some abuse from the students when I started teaching. If I hadn’t been so resilient and hadn’t had the support of my head teacher, I might not have stayed on. There are some who don’t get that necessary support and that is a terrible indictment on our profession.’