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New resource supports sexual and gender minority teachers

April 10, 2018 Jen Janzen, ATA News Staff
Breaking the Silence is a new resource that will soon be available both in printed and electronic form.

Teachers shouldn’t have to hide who they are in order to teach.

That’s the theme of Breaking the Silence, a new resource for sexual and gender minority (SGM) teachers produced by the Alberta Teachers’ Association.

To be unveiled at the Diversity, Equity and Human Rights Conference in Edmonton on April 12 and 13, the guide seeks to encourage teachers to access support from the Association.

In a 2013 study involving 3,400 teachers across Canada, 26 per cent of respondents were aware of a teacher being harassed by colleagues because they were presumed to be lesbian, gay or bisexual, while 10 per cent of teachers were aware of harassment based on a colleague’s gender expression.

“A lot of work has been done to support sexual and gender minority students, but there has been less dialogue about the rights of sexual and gender minority teachers,” says ATA president Greg Jeffery.

The School Act, however, mandates that each student and each staff member employed by a board be provided a welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environment that respects diversity and fosters a sense of belonging.

“Many SGM teachers are still directed not to ‘come out’ at work,” states the introduction. “Others avoid sharing any personal information with colleagues while many still worry about losing their jobs, receiving parental or student complaints, or being outed at school.”

An electronic version of the document will be posted on the ATA website. Printed copies will be distributed at the DEHR conference April 12–13 and via a school mailing later this school year.

Questions? Concerns?

If you’re a teacher with questions or concerns, you can

  • contact Member Services or Teacher
    Welfare (1-800-232-7208). Make sure you contact the ATA before you speak with your employer.
  • contact your board’s Employee Assistance Program for confidential counselling and advice.
  • know your allies. Reach out to ally colleagues in your school, school district, local or province. ❚

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