06 February 2007
Gay teachers 'not receiving employer support'
Gay teachers are not receiving adequate support from their colleagues when they suffers discrimination or abuse in the workplace, a leading gay rights activist claims.
Peter Tatchell told the National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) LGBT consultation conference that there was still a long way to go before gay teachers received equality of rights and opportunities, UK Gay News reports.
"Section 28 may have been repealed, but many schools are still failing to challenge homophobic bullying," he explained to delegates at the Birmingham meeting.
"This bullying affects both gay pupils and gay staff. Lesbian and gay teachers are being subjected to taunts, ridicule and abuse by homophobic pupils. They do not always get support and back-up from other members of staff."
Mr Tatchell called for zero tolerance in playgrounds and classrooms for all forms of prejudice and greater efforts by schools to improve understanding of gay issues.
He also pointed out that the Equality Act 2006 omits discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation from tighter diversity legislation and called for all communities to have the same level of legal protection through the "upward harmonisation of all equality laws".
A recent poll by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) found that the majority of union members heard the word gay used in a pejorative way on a regular basis, with many believing that high levels of homophobic language were institutionally tolerated in schools.
Research by the Teachers Support Network in 2006 found that 83 per cent of gay teachers and lecturers had been victims of homophobic harassment or discrimination in schools and colleges, with 43 per cent experiencing such behaviour from colleagues.