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Written by Student Rights on 29 November 2013 at 12pm

Newham College lecturer suspended over homophobic rant

Here at Student Rights we have highlighted the risk of homophobic speakers coming onto campuses on a number of occasions, but a video recently posted on YouTube has shown evidence of such bigotry from a staff member for the first time.

A secret recording by staff at Newham Further Education (FE) College has revealed a senior lecturer exhibiting virulent homophobia and comparing gay teachers to the Ku Klux Klan (KKK).

Mark Walcott, the consultant artistic director of performing arts at the college, was recorded by colleagues claiming that:

"...boys are becoming gay, not because they have got a gay gene but because they have gay teachers who are slowly indoctrinating them with their gay mentality”.

Walcott also stated that he would never allow an individual like Elton John near a school because of his gayism”, and that “...gay teachers, by associating with students, can make those students gay”.

He made clear that he believed that homosexuality was a choice, and that “sexual preference does become an ideology”.

This led to him comparing LGBT teachers to the KKK, saying

"If you agree that the Ku Klux Klan could run a school and influence people into racism...you should also agree that any ideology one could do that with...So people who are gay can do that too”.

Newham College has released a statement on this issue which reads:

"The College is aware that a recording has been posted on social media websites expressing views that do not reflect the values of Newham College. The College has instigated a full investigation, to be externally chaired.

"The individual named has been suspended, pending that investigation. Newham College has a proud reputation as a fair employer, not least as the only FE college in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index top 100, and does not support any discrimination against, or unfair treatment of, staff or learners in any context.

As the provenance of the recording has been referred to the police, we cannot comment further at this stage".

Whilst this appears to be swift action from the college, it has been suggested that the recording was made in January 2012, and a spokesperson for LGBT rights charity Stonewall stated that they had raised this matter then.

As such, this suggests that an investigation has only begun once the recording has been made public, and if true this is a serious concern that Newham College will have to address.

Students and staff should be able to attend college or university without fear of bigotry and prejudice, and it is vital that these matters are investigated immediately by institutions when they are raised.