Teachers and social workers are especially vulnerable to harassment by society. On the pretext that “we don’t want that type near our kids”, gays get sacked from working with children. If they don’t get sacked, they have to resign under pressure.
John is a teacher. He worked until a few weeks ago at a public school in Somerset. Then he appeared on a television programme on being gay. Within days he “was resigned”.
He told Gay News: ‘The situation was this, I was resigning at Christmas anyway, so all they did was to suspend me for the rest of term because I appeared on television and said I was gay. Everyone at the school was terribly decent about it.
“I was asked to go on this programme and I felt that the principles were important enough for me to take the risks involved.
“So I appeared on this programme called Now It’s Your Say on Harlech Television and I was recognised by people from the school and I knew that I was going to be recognised. I couldn’t have come out more openly.
“I had never made any pretence and all the staff at the school knew I was gay. Most of the boys there knew too. I didn’t exactly tell them it’s just that they must have realised.
“The television programme caused a great deal of embarrassment at the school, as most of the staff at the school had seen me on the programme. But the headmaster did not know about it, so I went to tell him.
“In that sense you could say I’d brought it on myself. He asked me to resign and I refused because in my mind I had done nothing wrong and I couldn’t see why I should be asked to resign.
“So now he has given me leave of absence until the end of term, so he hasn’t sacked me. My resignation has been brought forward a month or so, that’s all.
“In their view thev are being very generous and kind, but it is the principle of the thing that gets me. The very fact that if you speak the truth it is enough to get you the sack from a job.
“On the programme, which went out on October 20, there were about 25 of us gays including people from London, Bath, Reading and other places.
“It was really a question of my being associated with anything gay that would affect the parents or the old boys which frightened the headmaster into making me take leave ot absence.
“I got on well with the people at the school where I worked for four years, but standing up for a principle just seemed more important than anything else. The only way is to come out.”
John had belonged to his local gay alliance group before appearing on the HTV programme. He used to teach English and music at the school, which he asks Gay News not to name because he feels that although his being forced to resign earlier than planned was stupid and bad, it was bred out of ignorance rather than malice.