A recent study shows that teachers that identify as gay or lesbian are actually less likely to challenge homophobic language and behavior in the classroom and break room because of the fear of unwanted attention being brought to their sexual orientation.
Dr. Tiffany Wright of Millersville University in Pennsylvania surveyed 350 educators and administrators about how they deal with homophobic incidents at their schools. Many that were interviewed expressed that they did not feel comfortable coming out at school, with 62 percent reporting that they feared losing their jobs. Administrators were found to be particularly reluctant to come out as gay.
59 percent said that they had heard homophobic language in the staff room at work, and subsequently two-thirds reported that they have rarely or never seen other teachers intervene when such language is being used. Around half of gay teachers reported that they didn't intervene or challenge homophobic language when they encountered it.
Wright emphasized that the people being interviewed grew up in an era where being called gay meant that you were bad. She even cited a situation she encountered in her teaching career where a teacher used the phrase, "this is so gay," to mean, "this is so stupid."
The study follows extensive research in the UK that aimed to stamp out homophobia in the educational environment, and these findings are significant in the effort to end bullying.