Northern Ireland news

Union warns schools must be held accountable for tackling abuse of LGBTI teachers

NASUWT general secretary Patrick Roach. Picture by Simon Boothe/NASUWT/PA Wire=

SCHOOLS must be held accountable for tackling abuse of LGBTI teachers amid "shocking levels of discrimination" based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, a union has warned.

A survey by the NASUWT, one of the north's biggest teaching unions, reveals six in 10 of LGBTI members taking part said they have personally experienced homophobia, biphobia, transphobia or related forms of discrimination in their workplace.

These LGBTI teachers have experienced discrimination in their schools/colleges from: pupils (68 per cent), teachers or other staff (49 per cent); parents (25 per cent); and/or the school leadership (25 per cent).

The union has warned that "there must be a zero-tolerance approach to homophobia, biphobia and transphobia" in schools.

Members will today discuss how to challenge such discrimination, bullying and harassment at the NASUWT's LGBTI Teachers' Consultation Conference in Birmingham.

The theme of the conference will be 'A Better Deal for LGBTI Teachers'.

Other findings in the NASUWT's LGBTI equality survey reveal that 68 per cent of respondents had witnessed homophobia in their workplace as well 20 per cent witnessing biphobia and 45 per cent transphobia.

The survey also found 76 per cent do not think their schools/colleges are doing enough to promote LGBTI equality and 26 per cent said there are no mechanisms or processes for reporting LGBTI harassment or discrimination in their workplace.

It also reveals that 29 per cent are not confident that an incident of LGBTI discrimination, bullying or harassment reported to their employer would be taken seriously and investigated appropriately.

Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT general secretary, said: "School and college employers who are failing in their statutory duty to protect LGBTI teachers from discrimination, harassment and victimisation at work are breaking the law and they must be held to account.

"There must be a zero-tolerance approach to homophobia, biphobia and transphobia so that our schools and colleges are safe and secure places where teachers can teach and pupils can learn free from the threat of prejudice, abuse and violence.

"We need to see every school and college employer putting in place effective systems for reporting and dealing with cases of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic discrimination, bullying and harassment.

“It's high time the government takes seriously the realities facing too many of our teachers and takes steps to ensure that LGBTI staff are included and respected at work.

"Providing pupils with an LGBTI-inclusive curriculum must also be an integral part of efforts to tackle the problem of prejudice and abuse in schools."

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