Gay teacher quits Catholic school after students out him on TikTok

gay teacher tiktok outed perth western australia students harassment catholic school
Images: Max Fischer/Pexels, Nitish Gupta/Pixabay

A Perth Catholic school teacher has said he was forced to quit his job after students outed him as gay in a cruel TikTok trend.

The drama and history teacher anonymously told The West Australian that three months ago, the students had outed him in a viral game on the social media app.

The cruel “Guess Who” trend sees students post picture clues and derogatory quotes. Other TikTok users then try and identify the teacher or classmate based on the clues.

The anonymous TikTok featured the school’s crest with clues including the teacher’s school house group, theatre masks and a muscled male torso as well as a rainbow pride flag, the teacher said.

The teacher said he was clearly identified in the post. Students had also posted derogatory comments including “not many people like him”.

“I was victim to students making a TikTok about me that effectively was outing me,” he told The West Australian.

The teacher said he’d worked at the school for six years and loved the job.

But he said under the conditions of his employment, teachers must follow “a manner of life” and state their beliefs in line with Catholic Church teachings. It meant he couldn’t be openly gay at work, the teacher said.

“Being gay and working in a Catholic school, the scriptures and the Church believe homosexuality is wrong and teachers may be dismissed from their role [on] religious grounds,” he said.

Teacher disappointed by lack of support

The Perth teacher told the newspaper the lack of support from the Catholic schools system had disappointed him.

He said schools need to do more to protect teachers from cyber harassment by students.

“The onus is on the Catholic system to back their teachers and to protect them and to believe them when these incidents are happening,” he said.

“More often than not, these kids will get a slap on the wrist, they might get a suspension.

“But do they really understand the effects that these incidents have on teachers and staff and education assistants?”

A Catholic Education WA spokesperson said it “strongly believed in respecting the dignity of every person and condemned harassment of any nature.”

“It would not be appropriate to comment on matters involving individual employees or students,” the spokesperson said.

But they added “the safety and wellbeing of all students and staff are central to our processes and practices.”

“Appropriate online behaviour continues to be an educational and pastoral focus with clear policies and procedures if student conduct does not meet the high standards expected,” the spokesperson said.

TikTok states in its community guidelines it does not tolerate bullying or harassment and encourages users to report inappropriate content.

WA government urged to reform law

Reacting to the teacher’s account, Just.Equal spokesperson Brian Grieg said he was aware of an WA teacher who lost his job after his school discovered his homosexuality.

A religious school also pushed out a seven-year-old after the school discovered she had two gay dads.

Grieg said religious exemptions in WA’s discrimination law permit discrimination against religious school teachers. He claimed the laws are the worst of their kind in the country. He said the McGowan Government must change the laws to address the issue.

“Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania as well as the ACT have outlawed this discrimination,” he said.

“It continues to thrive in WA because the state government has done nothing to stop it, despite years of protest.”

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