Nick Hewlett is thought to be the first head in the UK to open up about his sexuality through this medium.
A headteacher from a leading private school is about to make education history by coming out as gay to pupils in an online video.
Nick Hewlett, from St Dunstan’s College in Catford, south , is thought to be the first head in the UK to open up about his sexuality in this way.
He will deliver a pre-recorded video message to over 700 students on Monday, detailing how he is „happily married and gay“.
The 41-year-old married his husband in a civil ceremony in 2014. He was inspired to open up after hearing a student say how comfortable he was with his sexuality.
„I suddenly thought about my own situation and my own identity,“ he told Sky News, „and I thought, hang on a minute, this is ridiculous.
„Here I am, a happily married gay man, and alright some students might know this, but the vast majority probably don’t, why wouldn’t I share it with them, why wouldn’t I be open about that?
„I felt strongly it could well help some students.“
Being gay at school remains difficult for teachers
At first things were fine, and Jonathan felt he was able to help pupils who were questioning their own sexuality. But the homophobic language continued – some of which was directed at him personally. What made it worse was the lack of support from colleagues and senior leaders. „While management said all the right things, they didn’t really understand some of the issues. I had to challenge homophobic language in each and every lesson. Kids would constantly make comments, obviously trying to wind me up or demean me.“
Dealing with the disruption this caused made it much more difficult for him to manage behaviour in the classroom. „It was an endless battle, and it ground me down,“ he says. „I felt very anxious – sometimes it brought me to tears outside the classroom, and there were times I dreaded going to work.“
But when Jonathan confided in his line manager, he didn’t get the reaction he was expecting. „She laughed, and told me teachers couldn’t be bullied. I think other members of staff didn’t understand why I was fussing. But if I’d been a black teacher challenging racism, no one would have questioned it.“
Jonathan left the school a year later, and says the homophobia he experienced was part of the reason for his departure. His experiences echo the findings of a research report carried out earlier this year by the gay equality organisation Stonewall, The School Report, which found that 96% of gay pupils had heard homophobic language such as „poof“ or „lezza“ at school – behaviour that often goes unchallenged by teachers.
According to equality campaigners, having openly homosexual teachers can provide both gay and straight young people with role models, but all too often they lack the support they need from senior leadership teams and colleagues. A survey by the Teacher Support Network in 2006 found that two-thirds of LGBT teachers had experienced harassment or discrimination at work because of their sexual orientation. For 81% of those who suffered any sort of discrimination it was at the hands of pupils, but 46% said it came from colleagues and 33% pointed the finger at managers. Sue Sanders of Schools Out, a charity that promotes equality for LGBT people in education, estimates that as few as 20% of gay teachers are „out“ to their pupils. „There’s nowhere near enough support for them,“ she says. „I’ve had teachers tell me their heads won’t let them come out. They should fight it, but people are frightened.“
It’s a huge area that needs addressing, says Stonewall’s Wes Streeting. „A great deal more work is required to ensure that LGBT teachers are able to be themselves at work,“ he says. „With schools there is sometimes this expectation that teachers maintain a distance from pupils in terms of their private lives. There are lots of good reasons why that should be the case, but it’s really important that pupils have positive role models. And people perform better when they can be themselves. „
The legacy of Section 28 – the controversial legislation that banned the „promotion“ of homosexuality in schools – lingers on, even nine years after its removal, says Streeting, especially given how many current teachers trained and first taught in that era.
Shaun Dellenty, the deputy head of Alfred Salter primary school in south-east London, whose successful anti-homophobic bullying programme has attracted the attention of the Department for Education, says fear of backlash, and a lack of training, are the main reasons behind some school leaders‘ unwillingness to support LGBT teachers and tackle homophobia. Outright prejudice, along with a continuing misconception in society that links gay men working in schools and paedophilia, can also play a part, he says. „Heads are worried that parents and governors will think they are promoting homosexuality. One teacher got in touch with me and said his head had told him not to come out as he „couldn’t support him if things went wrong“.
Felix, who works at a Church of England primary school, was horrified by his headteacher’s response when he told him he planned to come out to his year 4 class. „He said I needed to ask the governors‘ permission. I had to tell him I had the right to come out.“ In the event, the pupils were wonderful, he says. After some initial „uurgh“ noises, they began their own dialogue about what being gay meant, with one girl explaining to her classmates that it simply meant „a man and a man“ instead of a man and a woman, recalls Felix.
But a few months later, problems began to surface. He recalls: „The head and deputy head told me a parent had approached them saying lots of parents had said I was having a destabilising effect on the school and was undermining the Christian ethos. They then said they thought coming out at a primary school wasn’t age-appropriate. It has been devastating to realise I don’t have my management’s full support.“
Training has a vital role to play, says Dellenty, who has been working with the National College for School Leadership (NCSL), the professional development body for heads, including delivering a workshop for school leaders on overcoming the issues that prevent them from responding to homophobia. While he doesn’t necessarily blame school leaders – who he says have often not had appropriate training themselves – what is needed, he says, is a strategic, government-led approach to initial teacher and school leader training on the issue.
„Ten years ago, a lot of heads were wary of dealing with racism because they were worried about saying the wrong thing and making it worse. A lot of people are the same now around LGBT people,“ he says.
An NCSL spokesman told the Guardian that it has already taken steps towards tackling the problem, including new content in the National Professional Qualification for Headship to help leaders recognise and tackle prejudice-based bullying. And it’s not all bad news. There are, of course, examples of schools where teachers have had positive experiences of coming out to pupils.
Bob McKay, a languages teacher in Kent, thinks pupils at his first school respected him for telling them he’d got engaged to a man. „You have a much easier relationship with students when they feel you have a human side, and if you don’t tell them you’re gay it’s really difficult to talk about your life, because you can’t just talk about your husband or wife,“ he says.
But the conditions need to be right, says Suran Dickson, whose organisation, Diversity Role Models, works with schools to counter negative stereotypes. „You need senior leadership on your side; you need to know they have said there’s no place for homophobia in the school. And you’ve got to be in a good place yourself.“
Kate, a PE teacher, says she almost wishes her students would ask about her sexuality, because it might push her into being open. But she also fears the reaction of pupils and staff, and wonders if she would be ready for the extra responsibility. „There’s part of me that feels I could be a positive role model, but it could completely change the dynamic of my lessons – you’ve got a lot to handle as a teacher, regardless of talking about issues that are outside your classroom.“
Jonathan decided not to be open with pupils about his sexuality at the school he now works at. In fact, he suspects that coming out there would be trouble-free, but his previous experience plays on his mind. „I love everything about teaching, but what happened made me not want to go to work,“ he says. „It’s a scandal that there are still teachers who aren’t able to be open about their sexuality.“
‘I don’t blame any teacher for not coming out as gay’
Some colleagues knew about my sexuality. If someone asked about my “husband”, I’d casually tell them the situation. And it was working OK. Then one day the stakes suddenly got bigger.
I had an interview for an assistant headship in a comprehensive in a semi-rural area. I was the only candidate invited back for a second interview. My potential future boss spoke warmly about the ethos of the school and the importance of his Catholic faith. As a member of the senior team, I’d be working closely with this man. I suddenly thought: if he turns out to be a homophobe, this will be a problem. It seemed an important moment – for my future, and for his.
That day, we’d moved house. I’d had to wiggle out of my jeans and into my interview dress in the car a couple of roads away from the school. I was a little flustered as well as having the usual interview nerves. I mentioned that I’d come straight from collecting the keys.
“We need a bigger house now we have twins,” I said.
He looked at me. I clearly didn’t look like somebody who had given birth to twins a month ago.
“My partner had them – she’s at home with them now,” I said.
There was a brief silence. “Oh, yes we have another teacher like you – she and her partner are going through IVF right now,” he said. And that was it.
I know a handful of teachers and school leaders who are not out as LGBTQ at work in any way. The majority of the teachers I’ve known who were LGBTQ were out to staff but not to students. I can’t blame anybody in either group. For some it’s because they are not yet fully out in their personal lives. Others are from visible minority groups and don’t want to add something else that they feel will count against them in interviews or for promotions.
Their fears are justified. Stonewall reports that LGBTQ staff across all workplaces who are BAME are more likely to lose their jobs than white LGBTQ colleagues.
And for teachers who are single or currently in a heterosexual-looking relationship, being honest about their sexuality can feel like too much of a statement. Bisexual people are less likely than gay men or lesbians to be out.
One school leader described her inner conflict to me: “I look at others, the confidence they have, the sense of complete ease and comfort, and I want to be involved. Then, days like today when I’m feeling overwhelmed and I’m not OK with it all, I certainly can’t be the ‘role model’. Where does that come from? Self-preservation? Protection? Shame?”
In my lifetime, I’ve seen the advent of civil partnerships and same-sex marriages; IVF rules have changed. In the wider commonwealth, homosexuality has been decriminalised – in India and Trinidad. But in England in 2019 there is transphobic hate crime and we’ve seen lesbian couples being assaulted on public transport in our capital city. Hundreds of parents have withdrawn their children from schools in Birmingham and protested because they didn’t want them to be taught about equality for LGBTQ people.
In such a climate, I would not pass judgment on any teacher or school leader who decides not to come out. Sometimes they simply feel unsafe. How do people know they will be supported – by colleagues, by school leaders, by the government?
In my own case, I had lingering memories of hearing that homosexuality was wrong and recurring thoughts of hell and damnation after a childhood of church on Sundays. And having been educated in the 80s and 90s, with the impact of section 28, which barred “promoting” homosexuality, added to my internalised homophobia. People my age, and especially those who are now teachers, are still living with the fallout from this.
My journey to being open was a long one. Before I became a teacher I was a fleet engineer for a train operating company. None of my colleagues then knew about my sexuality. This was an almost entirely male environment. I split my time between the office and the train depot where pictures of page 3 pin-ups were standard. I didn’t fancy being the subject of banter.
Deciding engineering wasn’t for me, in 2004 I enrolled in Teach First, the teacher training organisation. By now, fed up of being vague about my life outside work, I decided I would be out to my colleagues. It helped that I liked everyone and felt generally supported.
In my early teaching jobs, my policy was to be out to other staff but not to students. This felt safe for me. I was teaching in a faith school. My colleagues were respectful, but I had nagging doubts: would the school leadership support me in the face of any comments from parents or students? I didn’t want it tested.
As I became more comfortable with my sexuality in my private life – my family were mostly on my side – the same became true at work. It was easier when I went to work in a school where there were other openly gay teachers. One, a close friend, was also out to pupils and things were fine.
Eventually, once I was an assistant headteacher, I came out to a Year 9 class I knew well, correcting them when they assumed I had a “husband”. They hadn’t expected me to be gay and asked a bit about if I’d always known, but the lesson carried on as normal. I thought it would be all around the school by the end of the day. But it wasn’t.
I had taught for over 10 years by then. I’d been on a journey – through different schools and on a personal journey of my own acceptance.
Being out has been hard at times. I’ve suffered homophobic abuse in public for nothing more than sitting next to my partner on a train or walking our dogs together. Being out is not an event, it’s an ongoing process. It’s daunting but it gets easier. For me, the journey has been worth it for my own mental health and wellbeing. But I don’t blame anyone for taking their time.
The real onus should be on schools to create an environment that makes staff and students feel safe enough to be honest about their sexuality. I felt able to come out at my interview because the school had a Stonewall schools champion logo on its website. These gestures may seem small but LGBTQ people notice them and they matter.
The Plight of Being a Gay Teacher
LGBT educators walk a fine line between keeping their jobs and being honest with their students.
Very early in his career teaching in New York, Glenn Bunger witnessed a student getting called „faggot“ in between classes, but he hesitated to respond. As a gay teacher who hadn’t come out to his students or staff, he felt hamstrung.
„I worried: If I get involved, what will others think? Will they associate this with me? Is my reaction right now really about me? Or about the student? I was always processing these questions and insecurities that prevented me from speaking out.“
Bunger remained silent that day but later brought up the issue to his supervisor. It was clear from the conversation that the supervisor felt students like this didn’t need any sympathy but, rather, just some „toughening up,“ Bunger said.
Bunger never came out to the school’s leadership or any of his students during his first two years teaching. Many other LGBT teachers in the United States have long struggled with this same decision of whether to make their sexual orientations public—and the „extra layer“ of worries that comes with it. The country’s long history of discrimination towards LGBT teachers could help explain why so many of these educators are afraid to come out. In 1978, the state of California proposed a law—a ballot measure widely known as the Briggs Initiative—which would’ve prohibited openly gay and lesbian teachers from working in the state’s public schools. Years before that, a group of Florida legislators known as the „John’s Committee“ prompted the firing of more than 100 LGBT teachers between 1957 and 1963. Though the committee officially folded in 1965, the Florida Department of Education continued to regularly purge LGBT teachers through the 1970s.
Florida Teacher Fired From Adventist School For Being Gay
A teacher in Florida was fired from his position at a school run by an Adventist organization for being gay.
Steven Arauz was dismissed from his $49,000-a-year role as a sixth-grade teacher at Forest Lake Education Center (FLEC) in Longwood, central Florida, on June 23 shortly after featuring in an article published by online news site Gays With Kids.
Arauz, who has an adopted son, told the Orlando Sentinel newspaper he had hoped the interview would lead to more children in Florida’s foster care system finding loving family homes.
„The irony is that, as Christians, we like to say, ‚Everyone belongs. Come as you are and follow Jesus,'“ he added. „But then if they find something they don’t agree with, you’re thrown out.“
Arauz went on to detail how the superintendent of schools for the Florida Conference of Seventh-day Adventists had contacted him via email following the publication of the Gays With Kids article, noting the piece had identified him as a „gay father“ who was dating another man.
In the email, which Arauz shared with the Orlando Sentinel, Frank Runnels wrote: „You are aware that this conduct, if true, does not comport with the Seventh-day Adventist church’s standards and the education program at FLEC.“
Responding to Arauz’s claims in a statement issued to the Orlando Sentinel on Tuesday, Runnels declared that Adventist teachers are part of the church’s ministry and therefore „must teach, support and live in accordance with the teachings of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.“
He added that Arauz had „breached this agreement“ due to his „conduct and advocacy,“ and said the latter had „compromised his ability to minister to his students“ by advocating „positions in opposition to Seventh-day Adventist teachings“.
On its website, the Seventh-day Adventist church states its position is that „sexual intimacy“ should take place only between a married man and woman, according to the Orlando Sentinel. „The Bible makes no accommodation for homosexual activity or relationships,“ it says.
Arauz accused the statewide Adventist organization of unjustly dismissing him with their move, which came little more than a week after June’s watershed U.S. Supreme Court ruling held that discrimination against gay and transgender workers was illegal under the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
In particular, he highlighted that FLEC had received public money in the form of state scholarships as well as federal coronavirus aid.
Forest Lake relied on state scholarships for at least 40 percent of its students last year, according to the Florida Department of Education and Step Up For Students, a non-profit organization which administers many of the scholarships.
The scholarships, which see parents provided with state-backed vouchers to pay for their children’s tuition, brought the facility nearly $1.7 million in total.
In addition to scholarship money, the Longwood school received $82,700 in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act money, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Public records meanwhile show the Florida conference, which says it educates some 4,600 students statewide, also received between $350,000 to $1 million in forgivable loans under the federal Paycheck Protection Program, another coronavirus pandemic relief effort, the newspaper reported.
But while Florida’s scholarship law prohibits schools that take the vouchers from discriminating against students based on „race, color or national origin,“ it does not explicitly protect gay students.
State law also does not protect LGBTQ people from employment discrimination, meaning it is unclear whether the termination of Arauz’s contract could be successfully challenged.
Newsweek contacted the Florida Conference of Seventh-day Adventists for comment.
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Trump admin backs Catholic school that fired gay teacher
The Trump administration is siding with religious leaders who ordered a Catholic school in Indiana to fire a teacher in a same-sex marriage, saying the church’s actions are protected by the First Amendment.
In a 35-page amicus brief filed on Tuesday, the Department of Justice argued that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis — which fired gay high school teacher Joshua Payne-Elliott last year — is, like other religious employers in the U.S., “entitled to employ in key roles only persons whose beliefs and conduct are consistent” with its “religious precepts.” In addition, the brief states, the “Constitution bars the government from interfering with the autonomy of religious organizations.”
Part of the DOJ’s argument relies on the “ministerial exception,” a constitutional protection for religious institutions to prevent government interference in the hiring and firing of “ministerial” employees. What constitutes a “ministerial” employee, however, is a point of contention.
The government’s brief argues that Payne-Elliott, a world language and social studies teacher at Cathedral High School in Indianapolis, fits into this category, stating that he has “the responsibility of educating and forming students in the faith” and continuing to employ him would “interfere with the Archdiocese’s public expression of Church doctrine regarding marriage.” The DOJ made a similar argument last year via a “statement of interest” in the case.
Can a religious school fire a gay teacher? It’s complicated.
Lynn Starkey worked at Roncalli High School in Indianapolis for nearly 40 years. In May, however, the Roman Catholic school fired Starkey as a guidance counselor after officials discovered that she is married to a woman.
In July, Starkey, 63, sued the school and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, claiming, in part, that they discriminated against her on the basis of her sexual orientation.
In May, the school’s principal notified Starkey, who has been married to her spouse since 2015, that her contract would not be renewed, stating in a letter that civil unions are in violation of her contract and “contrary to the teaching of the Catholic Church.”
The archdiocese — which is also being sued by a gay teacher who was recently fired from a different Catholic school in Indianapolis — claims that it has a “constitutional right to hire leaders who support the schools’ religious mission.”
„Catholic schools exist to communicate the Catholic faith to the next generation,“ the archdiocese said in a statement sent to NBC News. „To accomplish their mission, Catholic schools ask all teachers, administrators and guidance counselors to uphold the Catholic faith by word and action, both inside and outside the classroom.“
The issue of gay educators being fired by or excluded from employment at religious schools is not new, and since 2014, several cases have come before the courts. It’s also not unique to Indianapolis or Catholic institutions. In January, Karen Pence, the vice president’s wife, said she would return to teaching at a Christian school at Virginia that refuses to hire LGBTQ employees or to educate LGBTQ students.
So, is this legal? While the majority of Americans across all religious groups support employment nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people, according to a recently released PRRI public opinion poll, the law is less straightforward.
“The law is in flux,” said Jenny Pizer, law and policy director for Lambda Legal, an LGBTQ civil rights organization. “There are some principles we are sure of and some that are still being developed and sorted out in the courts and state and federal legislatures.”
In order to understand the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer workers employed by religious organizations, one must consider both federal and state law, the Constitution and executive orders.
Tips for school leaders
Lead from the top, and go back to basics: have clear and promoted policies on the issue
Enforce the rule that all instances of homophobic language – including using „gay“ as a pejorative term – must be challenged, and ensure pupils and teachers understand why it’s wrong
Don’t tolerate homophobia by staff, who should be provided with training on how to deal with homophobia and support LGBT pupils
Make clear to LGBT staff that they have your support if they want to be open about their sexuality, and that any negative reactions will be dealt with swiftly and clearly
Involve pupils in the development and design of anti-bullying policies
What I’ve learned: my advice to LGBTQ teachers
Safety and health first. Look after yourself and don’t feel guilty if you aren’t ready to be a role model for others.
Find teachers in your school or wider network who you can be yourself with.
Coming out is a series of steps – don’t worry if you can’t take them all at once.
Get the support of your headteacher or, if you are a head, chair of governors before coming out to pupils.
If you don’t feel supported or valued as a teacher who is also LGBTQ, move to another school – check out their websites to get a feel for how they are with gender issues.
Coming out doesn’t have to be a big announcement in assembly or class. It can be casual and personal in the flow of conversation.
Primary school teacher from Brisbane is outed as a gay porn star after students Googled him and found X-rated photos and movies
By Sebastian Murphy-bates and Matt Leclere For Daily Mail Australia
Published: 23:06 BST, 23 March 2018 | Updated: 23:40 BST, 23 March 2018
The maths teacher who recently had his double-life as a gay porn star uncovered by students who found videos and X-rated photos of him online is from Brisbane.
Scott Sherwood was teaching in the UK when he was outed by pupils at the Peacehaven Community School in East Sussex.
It has now emerged Mr Sherwood, 36, is originally from Brisbane, the Courier Mail reports on Saturday.
Scott Sherwood, pictured, originally from Brisbane but now living in the UK, flew out to appear in films in the US while he was teaching at the school in East Sussex
The 36-year-old teacher and adult model was outed by pupils at the Peacehaven Community School in East Sussex
Shocked students found out the teacher had been performing as a gay adult actor under the stage name Aaron Cage after Googling his real name.
The bearded teacher, who has appeared in movies titled Gruff Stuff, Man Power and A Soldier’s Goodbye, has since been suspended by the school.
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An investigation is now under way, the school’s head teacher said in a letter to parents.
Austen Hindman, who is the acting head at the Sussex secondary school, wrote: ‚You may be aware of articles in the media concerning a member of staff at the school.
Shocked students found out the teacher had been performing as a gay adult actor under the stage name Aaron Cage
Mr Sherwood appeared in many adult films for the Colt Studio – a gay porn production company based in San Francisco
‚I’d like to reassure you that we are well aware of the situation.
‚The member of staff in question will not be in school by mutual agreement while we carry out a full investigation.
‚It would be inappropriate for me to make any further comment while this investigation is ongoing.‘
Mr Sherwood had previously been working for 15 years as a bodybuilder and personal trainer and has lived in England for the past 23 years, according to the Courier Mail.
One pupil commented identfying him as her maths teacher on YouTube clip after she found the teacher and porn star being interviewed online
The educator became a porn model eight years ago – during which time he was also teaching at the secondary school.
He started working as a part-time supply teacher, moving into a full-time role in 2017.
Mr Sherwood is a mentor and form tutor for Year 10 students at the 850-pupil school.
He gained a maths degree from the University of Sussex in 2015 and taught at Rodmell Primary School near Lewes for two years in 2012, according British newspaper The Sun.
Mr Sherwood had previously been working for 15 years as a bodybuilder and personal trainer and has lived in England for the past 23 years
The teacher flew out to the US to shoot movies with Colt Studio Group – a firm which boasts a 50-year porn industry history and specialises in ‚all male erotica‘ and gay porn.
Its website lists Mr Sherwood’s sexual preferences as well as his height as 1.8m and weight as 108kg.
The Australian recently said in an interview that porn should not be regarded as work and described it as ‚a second job at best‘.
A secondary school pupil exposed the porn star’s real identity after finding a video of him on YouTube, under which she wrote he was her maths teacher, according to Mirror Online.
In an interview the porn star revealed his most embarrassing incident occurred when he got too carried away with his co-star
Children then started circulating explicit pictures of the teacher to each other.
Mr Sherwood has not been working since the allegations surfaced.
One mother said students were threatened with detention for discussing the controversy.
‚My daughter is in Year 10 and another child found things online and put them on the computer for everyone to see,‘ she said.
‚My son is in Year 7 and found out about it in the lunch hall while all the children were talking about it.‘
In the Colt Studio 2018 calendar, he featured as Mr January and the movies in which he appears include Gruff Stuff and Manpower.
An investigation is now under way about Mr Sherwood (pictured), the school’s head teacher said in a letter to parents
Mr Sherwood, who lives with his partner in Seaford, revealed his most embarrassing on-set incident in a recent interview.
He revealed he had got too carried away with his co-star before the cameras had even started rolling.
‚We kind of forgot we were being filmed and were just enjoying ourselves,‘ he said.
‚Yes, your co-star may be hot but you are both there for the camera and the viewer – not entirely for yourselves.‘
Mr Sherwood took on a full-time role at the East Sussex school (pictured) last year after starting as a part-time supply teacher
In the clip, he also joked about what his mother would think if she discovered his secret porn career.
‚My mum’s English,‘ he said. ‚I’m still waiting for the birds and bees conversation. Don’t worry, Mum, I’ve worked it out.
‚I think she’d be shocked and, for her generation, understandably.‘
All the curtains and blinds in the house were shut at Mr Sherwood’s £350,000 bungalow in Seaford, East Sussex today.
Five miles away at Peacehaven Community School, where Mr Sherwood is still listed as a maths teacher, a spokesman refused to comment.
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In the absence of a federal law that explicitly protects workers from anti-LGBTQ discrimination, a worker can seek redress in state law. Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have passed measures prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, according to the Movement Advancement Project, an LGBTQ think tank. Three additional states offer some form of LGBTQ workplace protections.
However, more than 20 states — including some of those with explicit state-level LGBTQ worker protections — have religious freedom laws or religious exemptions to their nondiscrimination protections. Indiana, where Roncalli High School is, has such a law. In fact, in 2015, then-Gov. Mike Pence signed Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which spawned significant criticism by those who said it would open the door to anti-LGBTQ discrimination.
Executive Orders & Department Rules
In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Executive Order 11246 barring federal contractors who do over $10,000 of business with the government in one year from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion sex or national origin. In 2002, President George W. Bush issued an executive order that added a religious exemption to the measure, using language lifted from Title VII. In 2014, President Barack Obama added sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected characteristics in Johnson’s original order, affording specific protections to LGBTQ workers, but Obama left intact Bush’s protections for religious organizations.
At the beginning of his presidency, Donald Trump vowed not to touch the nondiscrimination protections of LGBTQ workers in Obama’s executive order. However, he has issued a subsequent executive order that LGBTQ advocates argued undermine the efficacy of Obama’s measure.
The Supreme Court will hear three cases in October that are expected to have a considerable impact on LGBTQ workers’ rights. Two of the cases deal with sexual orientation, the other with gender identity. In the meantime, the Department of Justice made clear in briefs filed this month that LGBTQ workers should not be covered by Title VII protections. In doing so, the DOJ puts itself at odds with the EEOC and the majority of Americans.
Democrats in Congress have responded by reintroducing the Equality Act, a piece of federal legislation that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of classes protected against discrimination by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and does not allow religious exemptions to civil rights law under Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
— ArgentinaA youngster gets a whacking from his taekwondo teammates to celebrate winning his black belt.
— China: Six new university students get an initiation paddling.
— Japan: Whipping custom at ancient festival. Visitors to a cultural festival get their backsides jocularly whacked by men in masks.
(1) At an air training school, a man gets whacked with a hefty paddle as his mates look on with amusement. (2) A soldier is paddled in an office.
— Poland: 18th-birthday spankings: Eight clips. College boys celebrate attaining adulthood by receiving 18 whoops with a belt on the seat of their jeans in a Polish birthday tradition.
(1) A new member of a football team is welcomed with a severe whipping.
In a dormitory somewhere in Romania, serious bare-bottom pain for a young man being initiated into a sports team.
(1) Three new entrants are welcomed with a ceremony that leaves them with very sore behinds. (2) From a TV documentary about the Russian army. Rookie soldiers get a taste of the belt from their mates. (3) A soldier bends over his bed for a hard whack with a paddle. (4) A young army lad gets a belting from his dorm mates. (5) A light-hearted whack with a belt for two boys.
— Russia: Young sportsmen punished.(1) Two young weightlifters punished for smoking. Video not currently available(2) Three boys whipped in a taekwondo class.
In a humorous advertisement for a chain of sports-shoe shops, a young woman tries out various different sneakers with which to punish her boyfriend across the seat of his boxers. Part of our „Spank while you sell“ feature on CP imagery in advertising.
— United States: Fun paddlings. (1) Two young men demonstrate the use of the paddle forfun, and its after-effects. Video not currently available(3) A real one-swat college fraternity paddling.
— United States A jocular birthday paddling in a classroom, date and location unknown. The implement used might be the school’s real paddle.
— United StatesThe Spanking Machine: A Resilient Myth in Popular Culture (1) An inventor demonstrates his experimental spanking machine on himself. (2) Self-operated paddling device made out of an exercise bicycle.
— Venezuela: Whipping of a girl. A „first menstruation“ rite-of-passage ceremony for girls in Venezuela.
Australia: News report, Feb 2013: Court case about the „Sharia“ whipping of a Muslim convert.
Canada: Fuss over the caning of a 17-year-old Taekwondo student. News report, March 2018: Interview with student who agreed to accept posterial CP from his Korean martial-arts instructor. The youth’s father, who supported the punishment, also speaks.
Canada News report, 2012: A shopkeeper in Quebec foils a would-be young robber and spanks his bare bottom.
Chile: Unofficial pants-down whipping for teenage thieves.
China: Bank employees paddled in front of colleagues.
Iran: Three boys spanked in public. Video not currently available Caught on camera at a public swimming pool in present-day Iran, punishment is administered with a flipper by the swim coach.
— Serbia: Unofficial paddling at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre.
–South Africa: Unofficial whippings by vigilantes.
(1) Alleged rapists are rounded up to be flogged in 1999. (2) Two youths get a public whipping in 2016.
— Switzerland: Army recruits get a belting, 2010.
— United States: Man spanks young man who is supposedly his daughter’s boyfriend after they allegedly had underage sex. Might be staged as a stunt.
— United States: Vigilante gang charged with brutal spanking of alleged forger. Video not currently available Very brief TV news report (2008) includes a glimpse of the accused in custody at a preliminary hearing.
— United States: Workplace spanking. Video not currently available TV news report (2008) on a case in which a woman had been spanked at work. A court awarded her compensation, but this was overturned on appeal.
— United States: Judge accused of paddling inmates. Video not currently available TV news item (2007) about allegations that a judge in Alabama removed young men from prison and paddled them in his office. The NAACP says it is all a conspiracy against the judge.
— United States Video not currently available A 2009 follow-up to the previous item. The judge is barred from practicing as a lawyer.
— United States: Another follow-up on ex-judge Thomas (2009). Video not currently available The Alabama State Bar finds evidence that he is a „sexual predator“ but on camera he denies everything.
Video not currently available Video camera captures a mass whacking at a police training camp in 2009.
— Zimbabwe: Illicit caning of man and woman by police.
The Worsening Homework Problem
Currently, federal law protects people from workplace discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, religion, sex, age, and disability. But the law fails to specifically address sexual orientation. A recent executive order by President Barack Obama protects any federal employee or contractor—around 28 million workers, or one-fifth of the American workforce—from discrimination based on sexual orientation. However, it doesn’t cover teachers, who are subject to state and local laws.
About 20 states and the District of Columbia have taken matters into their own hands, developing laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, including California, Illinois, and Massachusetts. Curiously, the simultaneous push for legalizing same-sex marriage has left some states with ideologically conflicting laws. In five states—Indiana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Virginia—gay people can get legally married but also legally fired by an employer for being gay, a Washington Post map shows.
Without legal protection, the decision to be honest about sexual orientation can change an LGBT teacher’s entire career trajectory. NPR recently reported the story of a Catholic school teacher in Georgia who was fired after announcing on Facebook that he had gotten engaged to his longtime partner. His school responded in a statement, „We have to consider an employee’s ability to teach Catholic doctrine when making staff decisions.“ But that wasn’t an isolated incident. Several other stories have surfaced in recent years with reports of LGBT teachers who were fired after their sexual orientation was exposed. In San Bernadino, California, for example, a lesbian teacher challenged her school district in court with help from the American Civil Liberties Union, alleging that she was fired after attempting to help the school’s Gay Straight Alliance chapter. Meanwhile, in Columbus, Ohio, another Catholic school teacher was fired after a newspaper obituary announcing her mother’s death listed her partner’s name among the survivors.
As a former teacher with Teach for America, I’m disturbed by these situations and the difficult decisions they force LGBT to make. I spoke with several colleagues I had met during my stint as a teacher to explore how they’ve contended with these challenging decisions, often knowing their careers are on the line. Many of them have opted to keep their sexual orientations secret if they suspect their jobs are at risk.
„In the years before I had tenure, there was no way I was going to let someone’s else’s homophobia jeopardize my career,“ Bunger said. „My advice to any LGTBQ teacher would be the same: Stand and be counted, but only if it’s legally safe to do so.“
Even teachers in states with legal protection worry that homophobic school leaders can still find a way to fire them regardless. „There is always the fear that if you were to share this, it could color how staff and administration view your performance, skew their evaluations of you, or otherwise influence whether you stay hired or not,“ said Jasmin Torres, who directs leadership development efforts for Teach for America in the Chicago area and oversees the office’s LGBT initiatives.
Unsurprisingly, teachers working in more conservative communities feel particularly anxious about exposing their sexual orientation.
„My students mostly come from Caribbean descent, where homosexuality is traditionally frowned upon,“ said Lamar Shambley, a sixth-grade math teacher in New York who hasn’t come out to his students. „I wish that I could really open up to them and talk about my specific experiences … but if I tell them, they may tell their parents, and their parents may no longer want me to teach their child.“
Paranoia surrounding LGBT teachers in part traces back to unfounded theories linking homosexuality and pedophilia. Although the American Psychological Association and numerous other research organizations have concluded that homosexuality does not make someone more likely to sexually abuse children, Conservative organizations such the Family Research Council and the American College of Pediatricians—a group that requires its members to „hold true to the group’s core beliefs of the traditional family unit“ before joining—argue that homosexuality is a threat to children.
That could help explain why LGBT teachers who are married or in committed relationships sometimes enjoy a level of legitimacy and acceptance that single gay teachers often fail to secure. „I find that it’s easier to come out to students and families with a partner because people already have a sense of what a family structure is,“ said Emily Taylor, who taught for two years at elementary schools around Brooklyn. „The more [homosexuality] can fit into the schema that people already have about families, the easier it is for others to understand … being gay and single and not relating to people’s notions of family is harder and somehow not as easy to trust.“
But even people with generally tolerant views toward homosexuality sometimes question the necessity of coming out, particularly in a school setting. Many wonder why conversations about sexual orientation are relevant to the classroom at all—and why such personal details can’t be kept private.
„I never really felt like I was hiding something, because when you teach kids, there’s a part of your life that’s personal and you don’t really share it with them,“ Taylor said. „It’s not like they ever knew everything about me. This is just another thing about me that they don’t know.“
„Ten times a day, people share things about their private lives: ‚my husband is sick’, or ‚I have to pick up my kids,'“ Bunger said. „But I couldn’t participate in these casual interactions when I was in the closet. Instead, LGBT teachers have to constantly play a pronoun game when you talk about your partner, and have to constantly be careful how you engage with people. Like many other people, I have a photo on my wall of my husband. I want to turn that into a normal conversation.“But many LGBT teachers argue that conversations about personal matters do happen in classrooms all the time, that it’s only because society promotes heterosexuality—versus homosexuality—as normal that discussions related to a teacher’s sexual orientation are kept out of class discussions.
Torres, of Teach for America, agrees that for herself and her colleagues, being in the closet comes with an extra layer of work—and stress. „During my first few years teaching, I was lonely,“ she said. „You are constantly thinking about what you’re saying, what you’re not saying, whether you’re giving anything away. You become hyper-aware of how people perceive you, and you worry that you’re not allowed to be your genuine self at work.“
Torres eventually came out during her third year teaching, after switching to a school that she found to be more progressive. Bunger also came out after earning tenure, inspired by a fellow gay teacher who never had any qualms about discussing his sexual orientation with his students.
„It was only after I saw how this man taught—with no apologies, no guilt—that I realized that I could do the same,“ Bunger said. „If a kid ever used homophobic slurs, he’d open up the discussion. And even students who didn’t like it still respected him.“
Now, Bunger is honest when students ask about his orientation: „I don’t announce it, but I also don’t hide it. And any questions about it can happen after class.“
For other LGBT teachers, coming out to their students is far more deliberate—and even political. Jacob Lazar, an 11th-grade English teacher at Achievement First Brooklyn High School, has come out to his students every year for the past three years on National Coming Out Day in October.
„I look up a hate crime the night before from a newspaper,“ he said. „I share it with my students and tell them, ‚This week, a man was assaulted because he was texting his boyfriend, or holding hands in public, or kissing at a party. And these crimes happen because of fear and ignorance, and I never want any of you to feel afraid or ignorant, so I’m going to share my story with you.'“
Lazar hopes that by coming out to his students, his classroom can be a safe environment for other students who want to do the same. The dismal statistics of LGBT youth make clear that these spaces are needed: A new Williams Institute study of youth shelters found that nearly four out of every 10 homeless children identify as LGBT. „Family rejection“ was cited by nearly half of these homeless LGBT youth as a reason for them running away. A 2009 survey of more than 7,000 LGBT middle and high school students found that in the past year, eight of 10 students had been verbally harassed at school because of their sexual orientation and one in five had been the victim of a physical assault. More than 60 percent reported feeling unsafe in their school environment and over 25 percent reported missing classes or days of school because of it. Overall, the stresses experienced by LGBT youth also put them at greater risk for mental health problems and substance use: A national study from 2008 found that lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are more than twice as likely to attempt suicide as their heterosexual peers.
„If we ever want to get to a place where people aren’t being killed for who they are, it’s important that students know people who are gay and are learning that difference isn’t inherently threatening,“ Lazar said. As an English teacher, Lazar’s first unit focuses on American literature through the lens of marginalized communities, including LGBT authors. „The bigotry people experience on a daily basis happens because certain voices are not being heard. Teaching like this and being out as a teacher exposes my students to a voice that they might not hear otherwise.“
In 2010, Bunger began teaching at a high school with many open LGBT students. During his time there, Bunger remembered conservative church groups picketing outside the school with signs that said „Faggots“ in large, bold lettering. Through that experience, Bunger realized even more clearly the need for students to have LGBT teachers as positive role models in the classroom.
„Kids and teachers need to know that someone they know is gay, that it’s not a hypothetical, that this is about real people who they know,“ Bunger said „Being visible to these kinds of kids—kids who make dangerous decisions because they’re afraid to talk—is crucial.“
Lazar believes that hiding sexuality can also hinder the academic discussions in his classroom: „As a literature teacher, sexuality is a really powerful symbol. It shows up in a lot of classics, with authors like Shakespeare, or James Baldwin, or Walt Whitman. You can’t get into texts in depth without talking about it in some way. Their sexuality is a big part of what they’re writing,“ Lazar said. „Because I don’t have to worry about ‚giving myself away to my students‘ I can focus on the teaching and making sure my students go to college prepared to talk about sexuality in a mature, academic way.'“
Many teachers agree that coming out to students can actually help them manage a classroom better instead of creating an extra distraction.
„I used to think that my personal life would be a weakness, or would get in the way of education,“ Bunger said. „But now I think I lose more authority by not being real.“
Since Bunger began coming out to his students, bullying and homophobic remarks in his classroom have stopped. Now working in South Africa where he helps train fellow teachers, he has a picture of his longtime husband posted above his desk.
„Every day you make 100 different choices,“ he said. „Telling the truth shouldn’t have to be one of them.“
Payne-Elliott’s battle with the Archdiocese of Indianapolis started last spring, two years after he married Layton Payne-Elliott, who teaches at a different Catholic high school in Indianapolis.
In a directive sent to Cathedral High School, where Joshua worked, and Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School, Layton’s employer, the archdiocese issued an ultimatum: fire both men or lose your recognition as a Catholic institution. Cathedral chose to fire Joshua Payne-Elliott, while Brebeuf refused to fire Layton Payne-Elliott.
After his termination from Cathedral, where he worked for 13 years, Payne-Elliott filed a discrimination complaint against the archdiocese with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last June and sued the church a month later, alleging that his firing caused “emotional distress” and damaged his reputation.
Payne-Elliott is not the only former Catholic school employee engaged in a legal battle with the Archdiocese of Indianapolis over LGBTQ issues.
Two former guidance counselors at Roncalli High School sued the archdiocese and their former employer for discrimination after they were terminated. Lynn Starkey, a married lesbian who worked at the school for nearly 40 years, filed suit last July, while her colleague Shelly Fitzgerald, a married lesbian who worked at Roncalli for 15 years, did so a few months alter.
A third former Roncalli High School employer, Kelley Fischer, a heterosexual social worker, filed a separate suit against the archdiocese and the school claiming she was fired for publicly supporting Starkey and Fitzgerald.
Religious freedom or discrimination?
The administration has prioritized “religious liberty” since President Donald Trump took office in 2017. One way it has done so is through legal briefs, like the one filed Tuesday, and in many instances, such briefs put the administration at odds with LGBTQ advocates.
For example, the Justice Department has argued in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding and against gay and transgender employees being covered by federal civil rights law.
A report released in May by the American Civil Liberties Union, the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress and the LGBTQ think tank Movement Advancement Project concluded that the administration’s expansion of religious exemptions are gutting civil rights protections — particularly for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Americans.
„The administration is taking the position that religious freedoms give you a right to discriminate,” Louise Melling, deputy legal director of the ACLU, told NBC News shortly after the report’s release.
NBC OUTGay workers not covered by civil rights law, Trump admin tells Supreme Court
Religious schools can discriminate in hiring in some circumstances. “They get singled out as getting this one provision that talks about schools being able to discriminate if the curriculum is directed toward the propagation of a particular religion,” McCormick said. A school run by Southern Baptists that seeks to encourage more people to convert to the faith could, according to this section of Title VII, hire only Southern Baptists.
Other kinds of religious organizations are also allowed to prefer co-religionists in their hiring — a Catholic charity is allowed to prefer Catholics in the hiring process. However, while religious organizations have leeway when it comes to hiring people of their own faith, they are not supposed to discriminate on the basis of other protected characteristics like sex, race or national origin, McCormick explained.
“That is where there is a big potential clash,” she said, adding that the issue for LGBTQ workers is twofold.
“Title VII has an expansive definition of religion — not just of beliefs but also practices,” she explained. “There are a lot of rules in a lot of religions about how people ought to behave when it comes to what it means to be male and female, or to sexual or romantic activity.”
Then, she added, there is the issue of the definition of “sex” in Title VII. If it is interpreted to include sexual orientation and gender identity, then LGBTQ workers can seek employment protection under federal civil rights law. They have done so in many cases, but the circuit courts are split on the issue. Luckily for Starkey, Indianapolis is covered by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has ruled in the case of Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College that sex discrimination encompasses discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
The Supreme Court, however, is scheduled to take up three cases this year that could have a major impact on LGBTQ workers’ nondiscrimination protections.
NBC OUTTrump admin avoids calling trans woman ’she‘ in Supreme Court brief
In 2017, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued „religious liberty“ guidance that elaborates principles such as “religious employers are entitled to employ only persons whose beliefs and conduct are consistent with the employers’ religious precepts.”
Since then, many government departments under the Trump administration have followed suit, including the Department of Health and Human Services, which has proposed their own religious freedom rules to be overseen by a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division.
This month, the Department of Labor released its own proposed rule expanding religious exemptions available to government contractors and sparking outcry from many LGBTQ advocates. The rule expands the types of organizations eligible for exemptions to “employers that are organized for a religious purpose, hold themselves out to the public as carrying out a religious purpose, and engage in exercise of religion consistent with, and in furtherance of, a religious purpose,” and also allows employers to “condition employment on acceptance of or adherence to religious tenets without sanction by the federal government, provided that they do not discriminate based on other protected bases.”
The Trump administration claims that religious organizations need extra protections from nondiscrimination law, because not having them prevents these organizations from seeking federal contracts.
“It’s not just that they are changing a rule,” Pizer said regarding the impact of the rule, “but the way the change is being done is an explicit signal that this administration favors religious interests over the equality interests of LGBT people and women.”
University students in England can return home over Easter – but are urged not to
After considering the matter and discussing it at home, Mr Hewlett decided to also name his husband, Alberic Elsom, director of music at Whitgift School in Croydon.
He says he feels „proud“ to be able to speak out openly within the education sector after growing up in the nineties, which he describes as being „very challenging“.
Mr Hewlett suspects there are „so few openly gay heads“ because they were „conditioned by the upbringing and environment in schools in the nineties“.
„As a society we have moved on a lot,“ he said, „the difference is astronomic in terms of where we were and where we are now.
„But we haven’t moved on that much because this is still news… the very fact this is news tells you a story.“
He describes feeling „hugely emotive“ about the online message he will be sending to pupils: „I feel strongly that if the students feel they can be courageous about it then why shouldn’t I too?“
Mr Hewlett also thinks he would have found it „a real challenge“ opening up „on stage“ instead of remotely – and „talking about something very personal…something that has been a real journey“.
He talks about the need to handle identity in children „very carefully“, adding: „One thing I do sometimes get concerned about is this idea of pigeonholing children too early into a certain sexual identity.
„The sort of fluid nature of decision making when it comes to identity is a very important component of certainly of what I stand for and what we all stand for at St Dunstan’s.“
Sue Sanders, chair of Schools Out UK, came out as gay back in the 1960s as a drama teacher.
She said she felt at the time it was „crucial“ and says it is really important that teachers feel safe to open up to students in this way. She says some teachers still feel unable to be open about their sexuality.
„My guess is that students kind of have a sense if teachers are LGBT,“ she said, „and if they’re not out then it gives a really problematic message out that it’s not safe or there’s something wrong with it.
„If you’re going to be an effective school you are going to make it safe for everybody, and that means you make it safe for the teachers to be who they are.
„I think the fear of consequences is still definitely still there. Some schools do brilliantly and teachers feel safe to be out, and there are others that give very powerful messages to their staff that they don’t want them out.
„That’s a real problem and technically is illegal.“
Religious Freedom Restoration Act
An individual or a business may also claim protections under the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a federal law that prohibits the government from discriminating on the basis of religion.
RFRA comes up in the case of R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, one of the three LGBTQ workers’ rights cases currently before the Supreme Court. The case involves Aimee Stephens, a transgender woman who was fired from a Detroit funeral home after she informed her employer that she was beginning her gender transition.
In district court, the funeral home claimed that to employ Stephens violated the owner’s sincerely held religious beliefs, and for the EEOC to compel him to employ Stephens was an overreach of government authority in contravention of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The Circuit Court sided with Stephens, but the Supreme Court will have the last word in the matter.