The current situation for LGBT Teachers in Ireland.
Section 37.1 of the Employment Equality Act 1998* effectively allows religious-run institutions such as schools and hospitals to discriminate against any person who is deemed to undermine the “religious ethos” of the institution.
This means that in over 90% of Irish primary schools, many teachers who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender live and work with the fact that their jobs may not be safe, that they may miss out on job opportunities or promotions, and can experience homophobic bullying and exclusion in the workplace.
Irish Employment Equality Law does not protect these employees from being openly discriminated against on the grounds of their sexual orientation.
As a result, few LGBT teachers are open about their sexuality with their fellow staff members or in the wider school community. Their struggle for employment equality remains a silent one, as the majority of teachers and parents have no knowledge of Section 37.1 and the majority of those in managerial positions refuse to openly address the situation.
Breaking the Silence
Many incredible LGBT groups and organisations, politicians and activists are working towards the elimination of Section 37.1 in order to put an end to this cruel, undignified and unnecessary piece of legislation.
But without the voices of those directly affected by Section 37.1 being heard, this the subject remains under the public radar. If it is not addressed head on by all those involved, Section 37.1 cannot be confronted, questions cannot be asked, opinions cannot be challenged, support cannot be given, and lessons cannot be learned. The issue of Section 37.1 will continue to be pushed aside by the people who have the power to remove this piece of legislation.
Some LGBT teachers are beginning to make their voices heard in their schools and in the media. This blog is an opportunity for other LGBT teachers to tell their personal stories – the highs and lows of working in one of the most conservative professions in the country and the effect employment discrimination has on their lives, their relationships and on the quality of their teaching.
Please send your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org.