Teachers stand up against homophobia
April 12, 2012
Teachers voted unanimously to voice their support for Schools OUT and LGBT History Month at the National Union of Teachers (NUT) Conference over the Easter weekend.
They also agreed to campaign for the recording and reporting of homophobic and transphobic incidents in schools; a national training programme for equality and diversity training for teachers and working with other groups such as Love Music hate Homophobia (LMHH) to combat prejudice and divisive groups such as the English Defence league (EDL).
Speakers for the motion included LGBT Advisory Committee (AC) Chair Dave Brinson (pictured), who congratulated Annette Pryce (Buckinghamshire Division Secretary) for being the first LGBT member to be elected to the NUT executive’s new LGBT reserved place, before announcing he was going to marry his partner next month – adding, “and I don’t care what anybody else calls it.” He also raised concern about the assertion made by Education Secretary Michael Gove that the Equality Act ‘does not apply to the curriculum’.
Teachers also condemned compulsory deportation of LGBT asylum seekers from the UK. Schools Out have intervened in the case of Felix Wamala, a gay Ugandan who the Borders Agency tried forcibly to repatriate on Christmas Eve. Moving the motion, Deborah Gwynn of St Helens Association spoke of the similar plight of Indian lesbian Amanpreet Kaur, who was to have been deported last month and probably would have been had it not for campaigners’ and trades unionists’ intervention. She also warned about the freedoms being given to Academies, citing schools whose Sex and Relationships Education policy states that pupils ‘should be taught the value of family life’ which threatened the possibility of a return to the days of Section 28 when teachers could not discuss homosexuality in schools.
Tony Fenwick, co-chair of Schools OUT and LGBT History Month – as well as being NUT Equalities Officer for Luton (pictured) – reminded everyone that the struggle for LGBT equality is everybody’s struggle for equality and asserted the need to present an inclusive and united front.
LGBT motions have been passed by Conference over many successive years, but this was the first to be passed unanimously.
After the motion the NUT’s General Secretary Christine Blower (pictured) commented: “Homophobic bullying and attitudes in schools impact on every child and young person in school. If children hear language or ideas which are negative about gay and lesbian people and this is not challenged by teachers, they learn that homophobia is tolerated and normal in their community.
“Schools must be safe places for all staff and all students. All schools will have lesbian, gay or bisexual young people whether they have so identified publicly or not. Very many schools will have LGBT staff who may fear what the consequences will be if they came out. This is not what a safe school should be like.
“Very many local authority equalities officers have lost their job due to Government cuts. This is a disgrace and will undermine the support available to schools to challenge negative attitudes and prejudice.”
The Conference took place after the most successful LGBT History Month to date this February saw many schools and colleges around the country hold assemblies and teach lessons with LGBT related themes. Thousands of teachers have been accessing the online lesson resources ‘The Classroom’ produced by Schools Out.