LGBT teachers are less likely than their heterosexual counterparts to challenge bullying in the classroom according to a new study, reports the U.K.'s TES Magazine.
Dr. Tiffany Wright from Millersville University in Pennsylvania conducted the research, which included interviews with more than 350 teachers and principals, each asked about how they deal with homophobic incidents they witness at school.
“Often, LGBT educators are less likely to say something in response to homophobia, because then they might be perceived as gay,” Wright told TES. “They’re fearful for their job, or fearful of the repercussions of being seen as gay.”
In addition to being hesitant to intervene when they hear students using homophobic langue and antigay slurs, many lesbian and gay interviewees said they did not feel comfortable coming out at school. Nearly 60% of those interviewed claimed they had heard other teachers make homophobic comments, and two-thirds admitted they had rarely or never seen another teacher intervene when such comments were made in staff spaces.
An overwhelming 62% feared losing their jobs if they came out to the students in their class, with more than half noting they were uncomfortable being out to parents.
“A lot of folks, theoretically, might be in favor of gay marriage and have liberal views,” Wright told TES. “But when you’re talking about their kids, that’s a little different. Then, suddenly, people’s prejudices come out.”
The study is a sobering reminder of the prejudices LGBT educators and still face today. In March of this year, Tom Klasnic, an elementary school principal in Gresham, Ore., says school leadership declined to renew his contract because he is openly gay.
Lesbian teacher Christa Dias says she was unfairly fired from her job after she became pregnant through artificial insemination. Her wrongful termination case, which was filed in 2010 and was heard by jurors earlier this year, claimed her dismissal was based on discrimination over her sexuality, as another hexterosexual employee and his wife had used artificial insemination when they were trying to have a child, and no disciplinary action was taken against him.