The Guardian is reporting on a gay teacher who was advised by senior management to keep his sexuality a secret.
My sexuality didn’t come up again until near the end of term when some students saw me out and about with my boyfriend. It was nothing over the top, we were holding hands outside a shop when I heard the all too familiar: “Hi sir!”
A week or so later, I was called into a meeting with senior management.“You’ve revealed to them that you’re gay.” They wanted to know what had happened in detail: what the students had asked; how I had responded; any further discussions. “They had no right to ask you that question,” was the line that was repeated a number of times and “you don’t have to tell them”. I left the meeting bemused but under the impression that this was designed to protect me.
A week later I had another meeting with a more senior manager. I was “strongly urged” not to discuss my sexuality or any matter of my private life with students. I tried to argue my case: many teachers talk about their lives outside of school with students – some form tutors are encouraged to do so to build a relationship with their group. What’s more, for students questioning their sexuality, it can be reassuring to have an adult sending out the message that it’s OK. I began to question whether the issue was that I’d been asked or that I’d answered – and whether a similar meeting would be happening if I’d been seen with a woman.
As teachers we’re encouraged to tackle homophobia, but how can we do that when schools are so afraid of openness about homosexuality? I couldn’t understand why the leadership in my school was so fearful of students knowing I was gay. The kids didn’t care and, as nobody had called in, it seemed their parents didn’t care either.
I was told by one member of senior leadership that “nobody else needs to know this has happened” – as though they thought I was worried people would find out. Actually, I wasn’t bothered about other staff in school knowing I’d come out to a class. I am an openly gay teacher and there’s nothing wrong with that.
How does your school deal with homosexual teachers? Are they advised to keep it a secret? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter. ~ Sophie
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