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Stigma in schools

i spy homophobia

Stigma exists in schools. stigma thrives in school. The staff room is full of stigma. The staff room is full of the narrowest minds in the uk – teaching our young people how to label, ignore bullying and promote heterosexuality at the cost of every other gender choice. How do I know this? Because I have sat in staff rooms in schools and colleges around the UK and I have heard it. ‘Well, what you you expect? It’s a broken home.’ (Yes really. In 2019!!) ‘He’ll never make anything of himself. ‘He’s not bright.’ ‘There is no dad around.’ ‘She is not top set material.’ And so on and so on….I was part of this system from 2003 until I got ejected from it rather roughly in 2015.

I wrote this poem after being escorted to my classroom to collect my things after my 5 year career at a private school ended. The Head asked me to leave because my abuse story ‘upset parents and staff.‘ My mental health was ‘made up.’ (‘I’ve got a friend who has been in a war that has PTSD. If you have it, it must be a different sort of PTSD – if it exists. We only have your word for it.’ ‘We need someone who can be in front of the children full time.’ And the worst feedback – ‘Forget your teaching record. You are only as good as you are right now.’)

Reader, they paid me off.


Walking through the corridors,

heavier than a ghost,

the familiar faces float –

unfamiliar eyes regard me with pity, loathing or indifference,

the most painful drug.

I am a touchstone for their conscience.

They cannot meet my eye.

Yesterday I belonged.

Now I feel like a beggar

Sensing strangers behind me.

Kicked in the back.

A pile of disposable rubbish.

‘The eyes have it.’

Soul starved I wander through the corridors,


followed by the smell of failure,

heavy and pungent in the fresh spring sunshine.

I belong to yesterday.

As they head for tomorrow,

they push past me,

their unwelcome ghost,

Squatting in their classroom.

Written in 2014

Alice Smith 2019


Published by 361one

when I write I am a king. Listen to more at 361 live podcast

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