Solidarity believes that all workers should feel safe in their workplace. So we were horrified to hear the news from teachers union NASUWT that more than four in ten teachers have personally experienced homophobia, biphobia or transphobia at work in the last year. Solidarity believes that no worker should be subjected to abuse for any reason let alone be singled out because of their sexuality.
A real-time electronic poll of teachers attending the Union’s LGBTI Teachers’ Consultation Conference, which took place recently in Birmingham, found that many schools and colleges are still failing to tackle homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia.
The poll found that:
More than four in ten (41%) teachers said they have personally experienced homophobia, biphobia or transphobia at work in the last year.
Four in ten said they had witnessed homophobic, biphobic or transphobic incidents against other colleagues at work. 17% said they had witnessed such incidents on many occasions;
Less than half (48%) of teachers said they feel safe or comfortable to be out in their workplace to all staff, pupils and parents. More than one in ten (13%) do not feel safe to be out at all to anyone in their school or college;
While over three-quarters (77%) said they would feel confident about reporting homophobia, biphobia or transphobia to their employer, one in ten still said they would not have the confidence to report such abuse;
Nearly a quarter (23%) said it would be left solely to LGBTI staff to challenge homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia in their school or college. 44% said senior leaders and staff would take responsibility for challenging this type of abuse;
42% said that having a zero-tolerance policy on homophobic, biphobic and transphobic abuse was the most important step schools and colleges should take to make sure they are inclusive for LGBTI staff and pupils. 29% said having an LGBT+ inclusive curriculum was the most important step for schools and colleges to take.
NASUWT Acting General Secretary Chris Keates 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".
Pat Harrington, General Secretary of Solidarity, commented: "NASUWT is right to highlight this issue. We must not tolerate any abuse of workers. People have the right to feel secure in their workplace and employers have a duty to use their best efforts to ensure this. To abuse someone because of their sexuality or gender choice is particularly personally cruel and it's saddening to hear it happens so often. We are 100 percent behind NASUWT in their campaign against this."