Study: LGBT Educators Less Likely To Resist Homophobia

The study surveyed 350 American teachers and principals, and found that, when witnessing homophobic bullying in their schools, LGBT teachers and officials are less likely to pu a stop to the behavior. Furthermore, LGBT teachers are less likely to confront any homophobic language or slurs when used in the classroom. 

The root cause, according to Tiffany Wright, who conducted the interviews? Fear…not necessarily of being subjected to the same bullying, but fear that they might lose their job. She told Pink News that:

“Often, LGBT educators are less likely to say something in response to homophobia, because then they might be perceived as gay…They’re fearful for their job, or fearful of the repercussions of being seen as gay.”

Many of the teachers that Wright interviewed confessed that they did not feel safe coming out to their students or their peers. 59 percent of educators said that they have observed some sort of homophobic language from one or more co-workers, and two-thirds described "rarely or never" seeing anyone else intervene in such situations. 62 percent claimed that they chose not to come out to their students out of fear that their job may be at risk. Over 50% said that they did not feel safe being open about their sexuality when interacting with parents. "A lot of folks, theoretically, might be in favour of gay marriage and have liberal views," Dr Wright noted, "but when you’re talking about their kids, that’s a little different. Then, suddenly, people’s prejudices come out."

Gay teachersWright, a former teacher herself, drew from her own experience to try and identify at least one root cause. “We grew up in an era when gay equalled bad,” Dr Wright said. “That’s so ingrained in so many people. We’ve made a lot of progress since then, but the language has just been pervasive.”

As was noted by ThinkProgress, homophobia in schools is certainly not a new problem.

"Other studies have shown that the use of homophobic language such as 'that’s so gay' can cause serious health consequences for LGBT students. In the Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network’s 2011 school climate survey, nearly 85 percent of students said that they had heard 'gay' used in a negative way, and over 70 percent said they heard homophobic remarks often in school. Nearly 82 percent reported verbally harassment, and nearly 40 percent reported being physically harassed."

As was made apparent by Dr. Wright and her study, addressing such a problem involves changing the hearts and minds of everyone in the building, not just the students. Furthermore, as has been proven before, providing teachers with an environment suitable for coming out gives gay and straight students a positive role model. 


  1. mike/ says

    overall, it is very difficult to terminate employment of a teacher in the U.S. the one consistent reason has always been the traditional ‘morals’ charge, and that includes things like theft in it. it’s history goes back to the Wild, Wild West most notably.

    the school ‘Marm’ was always single & the old clicking hens kept an eye on her at all times to make sure she stayed virginal.

    the fear is real & we have seen it in the news a few times just recently at both the elementary & college levels. i understand the fear behind a teacher’s caution.

    as a building administrator i didn’t have to be cautious. i dealt with all scenarios of bullying & didn’t tolerate any of it. i also hired teachers, gay & straight, who would not deal with it either. you have to make it part of the school culture.

  2. Lymis says

    Yet another reason to demand a comprehensive federal ENDA.

    It’s sufficient in and of itself that it protects LGBT adults in their employment – but here’s a clear indication that its lack is contributing to the bullying (and suicides) of our kids.

  3. GregV says

    “A lot of folks, theoretically, might be in favour of gay marriage and have liberal views,” Dr Wright noted, “but when you’re talking about their kids, that’s a little different. Then, suddenly, people’s prejudices come out.”

    I don’t see what the point is of suggesting that our supporters are hypocritical when that “analysis” seems to have been made up out of thin air.
    When parents come in, it seems obvious to me hat it is the opponents of equal rights in society in general who have the most unwelcoming and unreasonable attitude to a gay teacher.

  4. says

    absolutely the fear of losing their jobs is a big factor. but we also need to remember what a bigoted culture does to many gay people; what it REDUCES them to.

    and for the best reminder of what an anti-gay culture can reduce a grown adult gay person to, remember what drives this site’s Anonymous Trolling Name-Jumping Commenters; being anti-gay has reduced them to worms.

    get too used to hiding in the shadows and sucking up to the Enemy to save your own arse, and you forget how to stand tall and combat prejudice.

    MIKE/ nailed it. well done.

  5. MateoM says

    @Mike: “…it is very difficult to terminate employment of a teacher in the U.S…”

    This is woefully uninformed. You’ve heard/read too many anti-teachers union Bloomberg-sponsored journalism hack jobs about the “rubber room”.

    The fact is that outside of states with strong teachers’ unions (and that is most states), and in states where teachers don’t gain tenure (again most states), it is VERY easy to terminate a teacher’s employment. Even easier is for administrators to give them a bad schedule and difficult classes to teach, or to force them to teach a class for which they aren’t certified (usually under false emergency circumstances due to alleged ‘staffing shortages’) then terminate them for performance after a couple of years of bad reviews. This is head-spinningly common in states like Texas.

    By and large, teachers have too few employment protections. But the cases that get all the publicity are the truly exceptional situations like New York, where a strong teachers’ union and labor contract arguably protects incompetent teachers in some circumstances.

    Get your facts straight.

  6. MateoM says

    Oh hey, fake MateoM. Or should I say Rick/Jason. I see you’re posting as me again. Fantastic.

    I notice your promoting your republican anti-union bs that only you, Rick/Jason and your dozens of aliases, post on this site.

    Don’t you ever get tired of being totally transparent?

  7. Hagatha says

    I went to a private religious school grades 1-8 and I never heard anti-gay slurs. I went one year to a public junior high school and experienced instant homophobic and racist bullying.

    Shut it down. The public schools are failing because they cannot effectively discipline the animals. Issue vouchers to all students and let them go to the school of their choice.

  8. mike/ says

    @MateoM – whether you are a troll or not, you are ‘woefully’ wrong. i was involved with the first ever firing of a teacher in Illinois for incompetence. it took ONE full year to put the case together including remediation, peer assistance, etc, not because of unions per se but the laws. it then took another year to go through the mandatory appeals established by the laws.

    we won, but as a result of showing it could be done, no one wanted to do it again. it took so much time & effort at times we wondered if it was worth it. it was.

    one of the pushes for charter schools is that they can fire at will. unfortunately, the research is showing that they are not any better than a public school but in most cases worse!

  9. MateoM says

    Mike, the first MateoM was in fact a troll and has nothing to do with me, the actual MateoM.

    I would appreciate it if you address the fake me as Rick, since he’s the one posting conservative talking points and anti-union bs under my name. Thanks.

  10. MateoM says

    Hagatha, we know you’re actually Rick/Jason. And it figures you went to a religious school. You’re so warped. It explains why you’re so vocally opposed to anything LGBT, anything involving equality and anything not tea party republican that the only explanation is that you were emotionally and mentally damaged by an extremely religious and intolerant upbringing.

  11. Dale says

    I teach kids that homosexuality is a disorder and that sodomy is a disgusting sin.

    And there is nothing you can do about it.

  12. MateoM says

    Dale, the fact that you have access to children is terrifying. Those poor, defenseless minds you’re warping with your fairy tales.

  13. Dale says

    They love it too. They know that men having rectal sex with men is gross and wrong, and that women faking real sex with plastic phalluses is sad and stupid.

    We are creating an army of kids who will no longer buy your lies and disgusting behaviors.

  14. Hagatha says

    mateom, you are woefully ignorant. Episcopal schools tend to be more liberal than all others. They can afford to be, by virtue of their exclusiveness.

  15. Kev C says

    People still believe in sin? How about the flat earth and the 4 elements? Retarded religions belong in the past.

  16. Derrick from Philly says

    @ “Sodomy causes suicide, not truth nor bullying”

    Well, have you told your family whether you want a regular burial or cremation?

  17. MateoM says

    Hagatha, I don’t engage in back and forth conversations with trolls, particularly those who post under my name in order to discredit me (aka you).

    And dale, I’m not sure what part of Free Republic-reading tea bagistan you crawled out from under, but you’re truly messed up in the head. You hate sexually empowered people of both genders. And this army you’ve created probably won’t survive to adulthood considering the self hatred you’re instilling in them. And if they do I’m sure they’ll be socially dysfunctional and extremely unstable. Your militia of ignorance and fear will yield nothing but tragedy.

  18. anon says

    I think we need a more rigorous study before reaching any sweeping conclusions regarding bullying and teacher orientation. Most bullying goes unreported.