Saturday 26 May 2018

Gay staff 'don't feel equal in the classroom'

Anne Marie Lillis
Anne Marie Lillis

Katherine Donnelly Education Editor

A PRIMARY school teacher who calls herself a "proud lesbian" says equality legislation does not make her feel equal at work.

Anne Marie Lillis said that the legislation was a barrier to dignity in the workplace for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) teachers.

Ms Lillis, chair of the LGBT group of the Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO), was speaking at the union's annual conference.

A new bill will amend section 37(1) of the Equality Act – but the INTO wants it abolished.

Under existing law, religious-run schools are not considered guilty of discrimination if they take action to stop an employee from "undermining the religious ethos of the institution".

The INTO believes that the amendment does not go far enough to guarantee protection for employees.

Ms Lillis said LGBT teachers were "ordinary teachers with ordinary lives" adding: "We are not looking for preferential treatment or special privileges, just the same freedoms as everyone else."

She told the conference: "Equality for me is not about my right to privacy, it is about my freedom to be public about who I am."

She had thought about quitting teaching because she thought that there was no room for someone "like me. Thankfully that is a thought that has long since left my mind," she said.

Irish Independent

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