The experiences of gay and lesbian teachers in secondary education : prejudice, acceptance, triumph
Twenty teachers who define as gay or lesbian in the North-east of England were interviewed in order to uncover their experiences, the effects which schools as institutions are having on individual teachers, and the moments when individual teachers have been able to have an effect on the institution. The study uses semi-structured interviews in order to gain an insight into the lives and experiences of gay secondary teachers; the interviews, although not a stratified sample due to the nature of the methodology adopted, include the perspectives of newly qualified teachers, middle managers and school leaders, including a head teacher. Both positive and negative experiences and themes emerged after structured analysis of the transcripts, underlining both differences in experience and the multi-faceted nature of the school environment. Emerging themes consider issues linked to coming out within the school context, issues of censorship, personal triumphs in addition to accounts of censorship and homophobia, consideration of teachers as role models, and thoughts on teaching and learning. Although respondents reported stories of problems when coming out, experiences of homophobia both from staff and in the classroom, and commented on issues when teaching and learning interface with homosexuality, the reality of the situation was often more complex than it first appeared.