11 February 2008

Does my teacher have the right to disclose my sexual orientation to my father?

Hi, my name is Catherine. About 6 months ago, I came out as having feelings for girls, and there was this girl who I really liked and she told me she liked me as well : we have now been together for about 5 months now. However, the problem is that many people at my school found out about our relationship, though they are fine with it now.

Another problem is that I go to boarding school and my housemistress found out, and now she seems to be picking on me and the other girl and threatening to tell my father who is against anything like that. I wanted to know if she has the right to do that?

lauren delrio

Hi Catherine,

Thank you for your question. It sounds like you are asking about how to cope with a school official who is uncomfortable with your same-sex relationship. You are also worried that your father, who is uncomfortable with such relationships, will find out.

First of all, there are different privacy and information disclosure laws for each country. In most countries, there is no specific law against disclosure of sexual orientation by a third party. However, there are grounds to bring the case to court (if you have the means) with the complaint of unauthorized disclosure of personal information. However, this would be hard to organize as you still a minor and have limited financial resources. In addition, even if your teacher does not disclose this information outright, there is always the possibility that she can give your father hints about it.

The United Kingdom (UK) has specific legislation on equality that outlaws discrimination and provides a mechanism for individuals to lodge complaints with the courts when they experience unlawful discrimination. The UK now has legislation prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of race, religion and belief, sex, sexual orientation and transgender status, disability and age. Discrimination on any of these grounds is prohibited in the employment sphere as well as education, housing, the provision of goods and services and by public authorities.

Therefore, even if your housemistress does disclose this information to your father, she does not have the right to treat you any differently or penalize you in any way because of your sexual orientation. In addition, does she really have any concrete evidence against you? What could she say to your father to convince him?

I would recommend attempting to diffuse the situation by talking with your father. Family counseling is always an option, and there are many counselors who specialize in GLBTQ issues, who could help you and your father adjust to your sexual orientation. He may come to understand that there is nothing wrong with your choice, and your relationship would be all the stronger for it.

I hope this answer helped you. Please don’t hesitate to write back with any additional questions!

Good luck!

Lauren, for AlterHeroes