Letter: Misunderstandings in a Hackney school

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The Independent Online
Sir: Phrases such as 'blatantly heterosexual' are often used jokingly by gay people discussing aspects of mainstream culture. They are ironic spoofs on such phrases as 'blatantly homosexual', coined by heterosexuals to indicate offence at the sight of us.

I am a lesbian teacher and, like Jane Brown's, my lover has three children. Jane Brown's comments were ill-advised if made in the course of her official duties; if they were a throwaway staffroom joke, she is a very unlucky woman, and there but for the grace of God go I and thousands of other lesbian and gay teachers.

I will bet not many straight headteachers face personal professional ruin following a homophobic remark, or the refusal of a free educational classroom visit from a lesbian and gay group. Alas, unlike Hackney's director of education, who is black, lesbian and gay Britons enjoy no legal protection from discrimination on grounds of sexuality.

Headteachers of Jane Brown's reported calibre, willing to work in east London state schools, are like gold dust. Living on a run-down, violent estate, Kingsmead's parents and governors recognise salvation when they see it.

Yours faithfully,

CATHERINE TREASURE

London, NW2

4 February

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