28th September 2018
INTO LGBT+ and the Central Executive Committee launch campaign to make staffrooms LGBT+ friendly
School staffrooms are often a place of refuge and, in a busy school day, a place where you can seek advice and exchange/disseminate information. As your union, we sometimes send out posters for your staffroom and this month we have a very significant one for you to display. We are enclosing in October’s InTouch a copy of the recently revised best practice guidelines for ensuring your school is a place where LGBT+ colleagues feel welcome and included.
These guidelines have been produced by the INTO LGBT Teachers’ Group. The INTO LGBT Teachers’ group supports and advances the cause of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender primary school teachers in Ireland.
LGBT+ teachers have communicated to us that on occasion, they feel unsure and uneasy in staffrooms and sometimes even unwelcome and isolated. For example:
“It took months for me to mention my girlfriend to other staff members. And when I did so it was with fear and unease.”
“I spent the first term trying to read the staffroom and decide whether it was a safe place for me to be myself or not.”
“I have been advised by many well-meaning teachers in senior posts not to let anyone know I’m gay. They tell me to be very careful what I say, and as gently as they can, they tell me that I will never get a permanent job in this county if word gets out that I’m gay.”
“Somewhere inside, there remains the fear that a parent could complain about you as being somehow ‘unsuited’ to working with children.”
“I haven’t spoken to anyone on staff about my gender identity. It’s a tricky one to approach because I have no idea how it will be taken. A few transphobic jokes have been made in the staff room. Nothing particularly vicious, but enough to stop me from mentioning it.”
INTO President Joe Killeen said, “While our LGBT+ colleagues are legally protected from discrimination, no-one should feel that they cannot be themselves in our schools. Therefore, we ask that you put this ‘LGBT+ Inclusive Staffroom’ poster in a prominent place in your staffroom – from experience we know that it makes a positive, inclusive statement to teachers who are LGBT+, who may or may not be ‘out’, and feel unsure of how they will be received in your school.”