Teachers 'still afraid they'll be fired because they're homosexual'
Published 01/06/2015 | 02:30
LGBT teachers say proposed new equality legislation will not protect them against ongoing discrimination in the workplace.
An Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) spokesperson says many gay teachers are "scared" they can be fired because of their sexual orientation.
Others are afraid to be seen with their same-sex partners at school-related social functions for fear of prejudicial comments from parents.
It has now emerged a total of 90 teachers who are members of the INTO have declared themselves as LGBT.
This number is expected to increase further as more teachers 'come out' in the wake of the same sex marriage referendum.
Equality Minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has promised to amend part of the Employment Equality Act to "raise the bar so high" schools will no longer be able to discriminate against gay teachers. But the INTO has now called for a section of existing legislation to be abolished rather than amended.
A union spokesperson told the Irish Independent the minister's plans do not go far enough by way of providing guaranteed protection for employees. The issue of rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender teachers, has taken on a new significance in light of the overwhelming Yes vote in the referendum.
Anne Marie Lillis, chairperson of the INTO LGBT Teachers' group, said the current situation causes real anxiety for those whose family status, sexual orientation, or gender identity, may be perceived as in conflict with the ethos of a school.
Schools are not considered guilty of discrimination if they take action to stop an employee "undermining the religious ethos of the institution".
While job applicants may not be asked about their sexual orientation at an interview, existing guidelines can affect a teacher's job chances, as well as promotion prospects.
According to Mr Ó Ríordáin, because of "constitutional" concerns the most the Government can do is amend existing legislation. However, Ms Lillis said that while the union "welcomes'' the proposed amendment "full deletion of section 37.1 is the only way forward''.