"National Inquiry into Discrimination against People in Same-Sex
Relationships: Financial and Work-Related Entitlements and Benefits."
Dear Members of the Inquiry,
The following is my experience working in a state owned boarding
school in NSW, and not being entitled to have my partner live with me on a
boarding school campus in the NSW DET owned housing. It was my only choice as I
had to stay there for this appointment, relocating from Sydney to rural NSW.
The NSW Department of Education is supposed to follow the Anti Discrimination
Act. I do not wish to disclose the name of the school, or the management
involved at this point of time. I can disclose these identities upon request.
In situations like working in boarding schools, and living with my
partner, my request for my parner to stay with me was rejected and I was
told that this was not appropriate. The following
reasons were suggested.
- They had no doubt that my partner was a safe person, but were more concerned about the school's "image". Gossip would always carry the innuendo that gay=sex=paedophile. My rationale for working in a boarding school was questioned on basis of my orientation, and prejudice suggested a dubious agenda.
The school management told me not to see my partner in the same town as the school, as gossip would relate our meetings with the school reputation. My partner however, did not behave any differently to a heterosexual male. We had no intention of behaving sexually, or behaving with any particular stereotype in public.
I was jeered by other male staff as a joke, and they laughed about me "needing a good one" because I couldn't have my "boyfriend" with me. I never raised the topic, and had never even told them I was gay. Apparently management told them everything. The school management even told them how many Mardi Gras parades my partner and I had attended, and this is something even I didn't know. The discrimination lead to sexist comments from other male staff. This could have been sexual harassment, but it was more like bullying. If only they had a chance to meet my partner, they would have seen for themselves that he was in fact a good and decent bloke who loved cricket and all sports, and was, in his personality, everything I was not. As an art teacher, I hated sports, but I was forced to teach it in the DET system and I couldn't help resenting having to teach something I didn't like. The other male staff would have mixed better with my partner than with me, and if anything, my partner would have helped them understand me as they had more interests in common. The ugly incidents that followed would have been avoided.
Other teachers gossiped about the situation to the students, and soon, students asked me about my "boyfriend". My only response was that any gossip about the personal orientation of staff and students within the school, in class was not appropriate, as such matters were none of their business. I mentioned that any special interest in my private affairs must be referred to the student counsellor, as this was an inappropriate focus when there was work to do. If any of the students hated homosexuals, I told them that they should also see the counsellor for help. If any students thought they were homosexuals themselves, then they might like to discuss their welfare and rights with the counsellor, as they only had their dignity to discuss. If students were being sexually harassed, then this again was not wise to be discussed in class, but I would encourage the students to talk to the counsellor, and I would support their welfare upon the counsellor's advise. Maybe this was too much information, but I did spell it out, as teachers have to let students know where they stand.
The students and parents complained about my response. I was promoting homosexuality, according to this complaint. This was not upheld. At least the school and Department didn't question my reserved approach.
Other teachers who were married to non teachers, lived on campus, in NSW DET owned teacher housing, lived with their partners. This was never questioned. In fact they were expected to bring their babies into the dinner hall so that the kids saw how they were "meant to be". The teachers usually placed them next to me shoving the baby in my face at nearly every meeting, as if making babies was my duty. Maybe I was being embraced into a family model. What ever it was, it was staged and fake. The heterosexual family was the "positive role model". My relationship was a town disgrace, and the more it was suppressed, the more I was personally oppressed. My real loving relationship was a "negative role model". My partner was 8 years older than I was, and he was an accountant. Accountants work in reality. Teachers, I learned, promoted artificiality. This denial of a visible gay relationship was an artificial fake assumption to model for students. It was discriminatory injustice to me, and for the development of the kids.
Other incidents occurred in the school inciting violence against me, mainly by the PDHP department staff, keen for me as the "negative role model" to "get out".
After a hate campaign, the students in numbers over 80 students, eventually bashed me in the school playground, chanted "faggot" while I was wounded, and other teachers turned their backs. The Principal blamed me, claiming that it indicated my lack of being able to control situations. A very negative report was written to NSW DET. He then gave me 2 days to resign. I referred the matter to the NSW Anti Discrimination Board. I was forced to resign under duress due to being a victim of incited violence, discrimination, and a gay hate campaign.
Soon after I left this work situation, my relationship broke up, as I had to relocate 5 times before I could settle down to my own life again. This was too stressful for my partner, even if we still loved each other. We still live in different cities, and my partner never forgave me for placing my career over our relationship.
- I didn't choose to work there, I followed the Department of Education's and Training's appointment in good faith.
- If I rejected the appointment, my position on the "waiting list" for employment would have been downgraded to the lowest position on the list.
[ name withheld ]