Members of the LGBTQ community today, depending on which part of the world they are, are being met with more acceptance and celebration. People are becoming more and more open to a world where anyone is free to love whomever they want. There are people calling themselves LGBTQ allies or advocates; they are usually heterosexual people promoting and speaking out for their LGBTQ friends and loved ones about their right to live and love.
In 1973, the Board of Directors of the American Psychiatric Association led the charge to remove homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). But the issue doesn’t come without controversy. Up to this day, being a homosexual is still considered an issue among the majority of the religious community, particularly the three Abrahamic monotheistic religions (i.e. Judaism, Christianity, Islam). When you attend a Pride March, which is a celebration of different sexualities under the LGBTQ spectrum, you will see there are still some people carrying placards of Bible verses justifying and expressing their opposition and homophobia. Because of this, there is still stigma surrounding the LGBTQ community. Coming out in a society which condemns homosexuality may still be difficult for some people, even more so for those in the professional or academic arena.
LGBTQ protection against gender-based discrimination in the workplace
There are 74 countries that have laws in place to protect people from gender-based employment discrimination. They are Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, among others. In 2018, more than 90% of Fortune 500 companies had non-discrimination policies put in place. However, In the US, there is no federal law which protects workers from any discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Twenty-nine (29) US states also do not have protection against gender or sexuality discrimination in the workplace, meaning a person can be fired for simply being LGBTQ.
In the current climate regarding issues of sexuality, navigating through a world which is in itself confused with its stance on the issue would be difficult for anyone to consider. There may be some instances or places that it is celebrated to be a member of the LGBTQ, but it is still a dangerous field to explore in some situations.
Dangers in forcing teachers to disclose their sexuality
An LGBTQ teacher may be discriminated not only in the workplace but by the society which surrounds it. In a school setting, many opinions are taken into consideration, including those of the parents, students, and the school administration. An educator goes beyond teaching their student and at some point, they may be responsible with influencing their thoughts as they are oftentimes regarded as a student’s second parents outside of home.
Overprotective and conservative parents have the urge or need to know who is teaching their children. If the teacher disclosed information about their sexuality, the parent has the ability to make demands to the school management if they do not like the idea of an LGBTQ teaching their child. If the situation is confronted within the 29 US states or countries without gender-based discrimination laws, then that parent complaint could cost the teacher their job.
Educators or teachers who identify as an LGBTQ face the reality that not all people will be sympathetic to them. Regardless of whether or not they are open about their sexuality, there will be people who will not like the idea of having them as their teachers or teachers to their children.
Positive effect of having LGBTQ teachers
However, children should also witness and be taught tolerance, love, and acceptance at an early age. In places where gender-based discrimination laws are imposed, some teachers take the opportunity to be open with their students and allow them to process the idea of having LGBTQ as their teachers or simply as part of the society. Teachers take on the role as role models, and can an example to their students showing that it’s okay to be gay. In this way, teachers are able to create a network of acceptance and tolerance, teaching children to be comfortable with the idea of people being different from them – hoping it will eliminate homophobia and promote a loving environment which, in turn, will proliferate in society.
The treatment and views towards the LGBTQ are not the same around the world. There will be places more tolerant and accepting towards the LGBTQ community, and there will be places which force them to hide who they are for their own safety.
There is a fine line between a student and a teacher’s relationship, and there are some information a teacher can’t hide from their students. Furthermore, it should be a teacher’s decision if they want to disclose information as personal as their sexuality or sexual preference. LGBTQ teachers should have the comfort of working free from any discrimination from colleagues, students, and parents.
At the world’s current projection, there might come a day when LGBTQ teachers won’t have to feel forced to come out and their sexuality won’t be too much in question when it comes to their ability to teach. After all a teacher’s job is to enhance and hone students of today to one day contribute to society – if students grow up in a culture which promotes distrust and discrimination towards their teachers or even classmates for being different, then it will prove to be a problem well into the future.
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