NEWS • VIEWS • INFORMATION • ADVICE
LGBT equality under threat
(Photo captioned: NASUWT delegates at the TUC LGBT Conference)
The threat to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) teachers and pupils from the Coalition Government’s programme of cuts and reform was starkly highlighted by the NASUWT at this year’s TUC LGBT Conference.
The free schools and academies project has a number of particular risks for LGBT equality, NASUWT Representative Alan Phippen told the conference, citing emerging evidence on the proposers of a number of free schools showing that some groups are seeking to use the opportunity to open schools that promote homophobic and discriminatory views.
This threat is being exacerbated by the attitude of the Coalition Government to equality issues, Mr Phippen went on to argue. The Education Bill, which is currently passing through Parliament, makes no reference to tackling homophobia, transphobia and homophobic bullying, despite the Coalition Government promising to address this issue prior to the creation of the Bill. This omission, he said, demonstrates the reality behind the rhetoric, showing that the Coalition has no real commitment to equality and the rights of LGBT people.
“The Coalition has failed to conduct a proper equality assessment of its education reforms. The discrimination in the education system that will arise from these changes, including discrimination against LGBT teachers and staff, is either being ignored or covered up,” he said.
NASUWT Representative Mary Page also urged delegates to join the fight against homophobia and repression of LGBT people worldwide. She paid tribute to courageous campaigners in Uganda who have successfully overturned an Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which, if enacted, would have seen LGBT people facing life in prison because of their sexuality. Despite this victory, violence and repression in Uganda is still rife, she explained, highlighting the recent brutal killing of teacher and gay rights activist David Kato.
The NASUWT has developed links with the Uganda National Teachers’ Union and has joined Education International (EI), a federation of education unions worldwide, in calling on the Ugandan Government to bring those responsible for Mr Kato’s death to justice.
Ms Page urged the wider trade union movement to join this fight: “As trade unions, we have a duty to champion equality, not just at home but around the world. Securing the decriminalisation of homosexuality in all parts of the world must remain a priority action in the fight for social justice and human rights.”
Also at the conference, Mr Phippen was successfully re-elected to the TUC LGBT Committee. The event was followed by the London Pride march and rally, which aims to highlight and challenge discrimination against LGBT people. The NASUWT took part in the parade and ran a stall during the event.
(Photo captioned: TUC Conference)
Further advice and information for LGBT members can be found at www.nasuwt.org.uk/LGBT
GTCE replacement announced
Details of the new body that is set to take on responsibility for regulating the teaching profession have been announced.
The Teaching Agency, which is set to come into operation in April 2012, will take on many of the functions of the General Teaching Council for England (GTCE), which is being axed.
The Teaching Agency will have responsibility for the supply, retention, quality and regulation of the teaching workforce.
It will hear cases of serious professional teacher misconduct and will have the power to bar teachers from the profession. It will also maintain the list of prohibited teachers.
It will take on the remit currently held by Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) to encourage recruitment into teaching and will be charged with ensuring that appropriate training is available for recruits. The Agency will also assume responsibility for ensuring the quality of teachers and other education professionals.
The NASUWT had concerns about the activities of the GTCE, believing that it was becoming increasingly engaged with functions that fell outside of its regulatory remit. Given the wide scope of responsibilities being devolved to the Teaching Agency, the Union has similar anxieties about its replacement.
The Union also has serious reservations about the independence, impartiality and effectiveness of the proposed replacement regulatory function.
The Union believes that the regulation of the teaching profession should, like other professions, be governed by an independent body, separate to government, and is seeking further details and discussions with the Department for Education (DfE) on the planned structure of the Agency.
For more information on the GTCE, go to www.nasuwt.org.uk/GTCE
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