the lesbian, gay and bisexual charity

Tony

Tony Green is a secondary school teacher

"Until recently I worked at a High School for boys where I was Head of Religious Education. I had been there for three and a half years after a break from teaching of several years due to the effects of homophobia in the classroom in my previous school. Ironically back then I had full support from the school and was encouraged to call the students' bluff and come out fully with the promise that I would be backed by Senior Management, Heads of Year, Governors etc. I felt too vulnerable to go along with this. End result: breakdown and signed off for stress leading to my departure from teaching."

"Foolishly or otherwise, I decided to return to teaching in 2001 to take a post at the boys school in April of that year. I entered some kind of timewarp and found myself in an institution that seems to think it is operating in the 1950s. Homophobia is rife among the students, largely unchecked by staff, and among the Leadership Team were some who have been openly homophobic in my hearing. To cut a very long and torturous story short, I once again found myself on the receiving end of constant abuse. Not because I am at all obviously gay - I am not - but because I dared to defend gay people and challenge homophobia on a regular basis. In RE the topic comes up often. The students have clearly not experienced many teachers challenging homophobia and certainly very few male teachers."

"I have left the school now, after having been signed off long term for stress. It is worth mentioning that I have never been acknowledged or thanked for the very hard work I put in to turn a hated subject around and recruit large numbers for GCSE this year. The power structure of the school which seemed determinated to make me feel as unwelcome as possible, hasn’t even had the decency to do the polite thing and send me their best wishes for the future."

"While still employed by the school I had to visit Occupational Health. The person I saw sat quite literally with jaw dropped to her chin as I relayed all that had happened and the complete lack of help, support or even acknowledgement of my problems from the acting Headteacher and Leadership Team. Yet the school's questions which Occupational Health were to ask on their behalf included: Why am I off sick? And how can the school help? Incredible!! The statement from the school said that I had failed to co-operate with the school!! In what way? Had I failed to co-operate with them in their systematic destruction of my self-confidence, self-esteem, happiness and productivity? They appear to have achieved all that without my active particpation."

"My union became involved. In spite of new legislation I doubted much could be done because of the time frame of taking these things through the legal system. But I had had enough. I am finished with teaching and embarking upon a new career as a writer and journalist (I have a Diploma in Journalism and some freelance experience, see www.thedialog.co.uk). I am prepared to do whatever it takes in this capacity for some kind of justice and truth to come out of this situation, for my sake, the sake of students who are gay and indeed my other gay colleagues – whether in the closet or not."

"It makes me angry when I hear people assume that gay equality is just around the corner or already achieved. Beyond Soho I see far too little acceptance of gay people, among either teenagers or adults. But I am tenacious. Though I have decided not to do battle in the classroom any more I am a fighter and wish to throw my lot in with any and all who will fight the terrible scourge of homophobia – especially as it is manifested in our school system. We can win and I believe, eventually, we shall!"

 


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