WE HAVE TO CLEAN HOUSE AND IMPROVE INTERNALLY BEFORE WE GO OUT ASKING FOR THIS AND THAT AND PRESENTING A FALSE UNITY TO OUR DETRACTORS.
The intolerance of gender and sexual diversity in our country, demonstrated by intimidation, physical assaults and death threats against persons who are merely suspected of being homosexuals, within the work and education environment, is atrocious.
I am deeply perturbed by the alleged constant bullying of a hard-working male teacher, based on his perceived sexual orientation by a few of his male colleagues, at a high school in Kingston.
Since September 2010, a male teacher has been receiving verbal assaults and death threats, such as "POW! POW! ....-man fi dead", from his colleagues in the presence of other staff members and students.
The assault has continued until, recently, the victim, out of fear for his safety, has made a police report. This type of blatantly homophobic behaviour by teachers is inexcusable and unacceptable.
Many Jamaicans face discrimination in the workplace because of their perceived or actual sexual orientation. This can mean dealing with the prejudice of their own colleagues, which can be unbearable and lead to increased absenteeism and changing of jobs. Bullying and intimidation in the workplace can lead to depression, a sense of worthlessness, and even thoughts of suicide.
Furthermore, sexual orientation may be seen as a barrier to promotion or recognition of achievements. In some cases, lesbian, gay and bisexual people avoid certain careers that they think will be homophobic.
Teachers, as primary educators, are considered to be critical leaders in our society; however, they should be equally blamed for reinforcing and, perhaps, perpetuating this culture of homophobia within the Jamaican society.
Therefore, I am urging the Ministry of Education, the Jamaica Teachers' Association and all schools to stem this culture of intolerance.
I am, etc.,