A member of our staff team is gay. Should we tell him not to mention his sexuality to the parents in our setting?
No. It is perfectly natural for staff and parents to exchange general information about social activities including their family life. By telling the member of staff to not mention his sexuality, this denies him the right to be included and share information when and if he chooses to. It would also give him the message that his sexuality is something to be ashamed of and should be hidden away and it should not be.
Since one of our mothers revealed that she has a female partner, a few of the other parents have been excluding her and saying that it's against their religious beliefs to support her lifestyle. What should we do?
Firstly, reassure the mother and her partner that they are very welcome in the setting. All parents want to feel included and accepted within the community; lesbian and gay parents are no different.
It is vital that you make it very clear that your setting does not share the same views as the perpetrators (the parents) and that their bullying behaviour (which this is) will not be tolerated. Explain that all religious communities oppose bullying and would equally condemn this type of behaviour.
No one should ever made to feel excluded so your setting must act to stop the actions of these parents and remind them of the setting’s underpinning inclusive ethos. There are a number of specific training programme around sexual orientation which address issues in the early years and primary education sector. This type of training will raise awareness with your staff and parents and also help you fulfil your own legislative responsibilities. For more information visit http://www.schools-out.org.uk/ and http://www.stonewall.org.uk/at_school/education_for_all/parents_and_carers/4162.asp
Our nursery is very keen to be fully inclusive but is not sure how to cover the subject of sexual orientation. Can you offer some advice please?
Demonstrating the whole-setting’s ethos and commitment to all forms of diversity is essential. Everyone has the right to be treated with dignity and respect whatever their sex, ethnicity, disability, age, religion and that includes in relation to their sexual orientation.
To ensure that policy and practice does not discriminate against gay, lesbian or bisexual adults, the setting should:
- Keep fully informed of all legislation that protects and promotes the rights of gay and lesbian people in service provision.
- Check that if used, the setting’s equal opportunities policy is up to date and states clearly that parents and staff in same sex relationships will be welcomed and any discrimination towards them will be challenged.
- Ensure that the language in documents and information leaflets does not indicate that ‘family’ just means a two-parent heterosexual family.
- Ensure that the early years curriculum demonstrates to children how to value and celebrate family in every form.
- Address all prejudicial and discriminatory remarks and actions immediately in order to create an environment of trust and openness.
- Consider celebrating lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) month (http://lgbthistorymonth.org.uk/) in February.
- Run awareness raising workshops (http://www.schools-out.org.uk/) for parents and staff on issues relating to the gay, and lesbian community.
- When relevant in activities include reference to different families which include two mums or two dads. Acknowledge both parents in a lesbian or gay couple and be aware that some lone parents are lesbian or gay too.
- Answer questions from children about same sex relationships honestly and accurately and at a level appropriate to children’s level of understanding.
- Encourage both girls and boys to feel confident in their exploration of roles, sex and gender eg daddy stays at home and looks after me and mummy works.
- Provide resources such as books which show the ‘visibility’ of gay and lesbian parents and relatives (eg One Dad, Two Dads, Brown Dad, Blue Dad by Johnny Valentine and Melody Sarecky).
Click here to download the Out for Our Children Foundation Stage Pack
I have not shared my sexuality with staff in the new nursery where I work because I have heard the owner make a few homophobic remarks and I don’t want to lose my job. Can you advise please?
Some employers do ask for details of the sexual orientation of employees, for monitoring purposes or as part of their collection of equal opportunities data but there is no need to share any information that you do not want to. It is wrong that you feel unable to disclose this information for fear of losing your job and since 2003, it has also been unlawful for your employer to discriminate against, victimise or harass you because of your sexual orientation, or what they perceive your sexual orientation to be.
No member of staff should ever feel unable to reveal information about themselves for fear of being persecuted or discriminated against so please seek further advice. Stonewall the charity who works to achieve equality and justice for lesbian women, gay men and bisexual people have produced an excellent guide on: preventing the bullying and harassment of gay employees in the workplace. For more details visit www.stonewall.org.uk