Four in 10 LGBT+ teachers experience homophobia, biphobia or transphobia, warns NASUWT

More than four in ten teachers who identify as LGBT+ have personally experienced homophobia, biphobia or transphobia at work in the past year, the NASUWT teaching union has warned.

And 40 per cent of LGBT+ teachers have also witnessed homophobic, biphobic or transphobic incidents involving their colleagues, with 17 per cent saying they had witnessed incidents on “many occasions”.

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

NASUWT carried out an electronic poll at its LGBTI teachers’ consultation conference, attended by 140 people on Saturday in Birmingham.

The poll found that just 48 per cent of respondents said they felt safe or comfortable to be out to all staff, pupils and parents in their workplace, while 13 per cent said they did not feel safe to be out at all to anyone in their school or college.

Chris Keates, NASUWT’s acting general secretary, 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.”

More than three quarters of respondents – 77 per cent – said they would feel confident reporting homophobia, biphobia or transphobia to their employer. But one in ten said they would not have the confidence to report the abuse.

Nearly a quarter – 23 per cent – said it would be left solely to LGBTI staff to challenge these incidents in their school or college. However, 44 per cent said senior leaders and staff would take responsibility for challenging this type of abuse.

Forty-two per cent said having a zero tolerance policy on abuse was the most important step schools and college should take to make sure they are inclusive while 29 per cent said having a LGBT+ inclusive curriculum was the most important step.

A Stonewall report in 2018 found a third of LGBT staff in the workforce more generally have hidden that they are LGBT at work for fear of discrimination.

Almost one in five LGBT staff – 18 per cent – were targeted with negative comments or conduct from work colleagues because they were LGBT. The report was based on YouGov research with 3,213 LGBT employees across workplaces in Britain.

“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,” said Keates.

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

Correction: This article was amended to make it clear the survey related to teachers who identified as LGBT+.

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  1. Mark Watson

    Not belittling the issue of homophobia, biphobia or transphobia, or indeed any form of discrimination, in any way but the attempt by the NASUWT and SchoolsWeek to paint this as a true and accurate picture of the education sector as a whole is bewildering.

    We don’t know how many people took part in this ‘poll’, but as the total number of attendees at the conference was 140 we can presumably take this as the maximum number of participants. That’s 140 out of a workforce of over half a million (or less than 0.03% for those who like percentages).

    Not only that, but this wasn’t even a general conference attracting a variety of attendees – this was the ‘LGBTQI teachers’ consultation conference’. I’d hazard a guess that the vast majority of delegates were LGBTQI.

    It’s depressing that 40% of these delegates have experienced homophobia, biphobia or transphobia at work. One is too many, and clearly more work is needed in schools and in society at large. But to use this poll to claim that “Four in 10 teachers experience homophobia, biphobia or transphobia” (which equates to over 200,000 teachers) is highly misleading.

    “Four in 10 LGBTQI teachers experience homophobia, biphobia or transphobia” is a more sensible headline, although I’d still question whether the experiences of 56 people is enough to justify that.

    It’s a shame that such an important issue is cheapened by the attempt to use hyperbole.