LGBT Survey | Education Support Partnership

LGBT Survey

More than two-thirds (68 per cent) of staff in education witnessed homophobic harassment and just under half (48 per cent) were personally discriminated against because of their sexual orientation, according to our research carried out in March 2014.

48 per cent of those polled were harassed by colleagues and 68 per cent were discriminated against by their students.

Our report also revealed that 67% of staff in schools did not feel adequately prepared to teach same-sex marriage and LGBT related issues, preventing an open and tolerant environment for teachers and students.

LGBT discrimination impacts on education professionals’ wellbeing in a number of ways.

  • 38% of people surveyed said it reduced their confidence and self-esteem
  • More than a fifth (21%) of respondents said the harassment they had been subject to or witnessed had made them consider leaving their organisation
  • One in five (20%) had considered leaving the profession altogether.

Jo Bardsley, one of the teachers we spoke to, said: “I talk about my civil partnership to pupils. I’ve been told that some colleagues don’t approve, but I think it is important that pupils have good role models and learn about the benefits of stable relationships of all kinds.”

Another respondent, who did not want to be named, said: "I will be holding an assembly on gay and lesbian marriage this week. It's vital to make students aware of the importance of equality for all and by mentioning my wedding, I am able to be a role model for gay people being happy in a committed relationship, just like anyone else. "

An anonymous respondent said: "I did get some abuse from the students when I started teaching. If I hadn't been so resilient and hadn't had the support of my headeacher, I might not have stayed on. There are some who don't get that necessary support and that is a terrible indictment on our profession."

For many staff in education their sexuality has resulted in severe levels of discrimination by students, but also surprisingly by colleagues as well. This has left some LGBT teachers unable to do their job properly, affected their mental wellbeing and even left them considering leaving the profession altogether.

Julian Stanley, Chief Executive of Education Support Partnership, said: “The focus of LGBT policy in schools has tended to be on students, but teachers and staff in FE and HE need to be equally supported. The Government has introduced new legislation, but how do we translate this into positive action in schools?

“It is important that schools have appropriate policies and practical training in place so all schools, colleges and universities are able to offer support and teach LGBT issues. Creating a non-discriminative and supportive environment will enable staff facing discrimination to seek help, but more importantly that all staff, whatever their sexual orientation, are treated with respect.”

If you have been subjected to or witnessed workplace discrimination and need somebody to turn to, call our Support Line on 08000 562 561.