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+.