ELTtoo

About us

#ELTtoo: working to build safer work environments for everyone.
#ELTtoo is a movement of educators who want the voices of people that have been harassed, bullied and intimidated to be heard, no matter who they are or where they are.
Our mission is to work with people to raise awareness of these issues and provide support, guidance and appropriate training so that all our work environments are harassment- and bullying-free.

#ELTtoo is a call for real change in ELT for all genders worldwide.

What are we doing?

  • Raising awareness of the serious issue of abuse, harassment and bullying
  • Sharing personal stories
  • Sharing information about sexual misconduct, harassment and bullying: what it is, and actions you can take if you are a victim of abuse
  • Actively supporting the idea of a safe, fair and comfortable workplace for all
  • Working together with professional bodies and organisations to share and provide clear guidelines and support for ELT professionals

What are we being careful to NOT do?

  • If any individuals feel bad about any of their past actions and as a result of this campaign decide to re-evaluate their own code of ethics and change their future actions, that is great news. HOWEVER, we are not here to name and shame.  We want to look forward not back, to help build a better future for educators.

No more silence. No more ignoring. No more tolerance of harassment, abuse or discrimination.

An open letter to all ELT professionals

Dear fellow ELTers

We are writing on the behalf of teachers, academic managers, teacher trainers, materials writers, researchers and other professionals who work in ELT. The recent #metoo campaign brought to light just how prevalent sexual harassment and bullying is in our profession. Many people came forward to tell what had happened and is still happening to them on a daily basis in their places of work and at public events. Your stories have been heard and we thank you for sharing them so openly and bravely. 

The serious problem with harassment and bullying in our profession needs to be addressed openly and honestly. 

People need to feel confident that if they are subjected to any kind of abuse, they will be listened to and appropriate action will be taken by employers, fellow professionals and teaching associations. 

There must be clear policies and procedures in place that allow them to report incidents so they can be followed up and dealt with. 

We want people to be held accountable for their behaviours and by doing so, make our profession a safe and equitable place for everyone.

Unfortunately, we have allowed harassment to go on too long, making excuses for the perpetrators or thinking that if we ignore it, it may just improve or go away. Harassment happens because perpetrators never face consequences, often because we think that, because nothing has ever happened in the past, nothing will happen if we say something when things have been reported. We may feel too afraid and intimidated by a perpetrator with a status in the industry able to influence our employment prospects. 

We want this to change. We want to tell your stories through our voice so that we can make ELT a safer place for all.

Yours Sincerely,

Varinder Unlu, and the ever increasing supporters of this movement from all genders.

For more information

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To share your personal story

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To write to us

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I worked at the franchisor of a well known course in Brasil. The franchising company is big, but the franchisor itself is a small company. There were around sixty employees, mostly women. The president of the company would work upstairs from the room where I worked and he would be often there. Soon after I was hired, my boss – a woman – told me that the president’s driver might approach me at some point to invite me to have dinner with the president, and that it was polite to say yes, and then the rest was on me. I was appalled and went ballistic. Excuse me? She was quick to explain that a woman who worked at that time in the marketing department has started as a secretary, but after accepting a few invitations she had started her university course in marketing as soon as she was promoted to the department. She explained to me that if I was invited and said no, I might be fired before the three months experience ended.

She explained to me that if I was invited and said no, I might be fired before the three months experience ended.

I gave my boss a piece of my mind and told her he had better not approach me, as I wouldn’t take it well. Other women in the company told me about how I should put my pride aside, and be open to possibilities, as they would probably come with professional growth. Soon I learnt the ‘marketing girl’ was nicknamed “lanchinho” (‘snack’ in Portuguese). I was never formally approached, but I had to endure many other uncomfortable situations. The company had grand misogyny displays: all the male directors and coordinators were very open about screwing this or that person from either the franchisor or the franchises, and would make open derogatory comments on women in general. Every month there was a party at the company’s rooftop and there was usually beer and barbecue, and it was also a situation that women would be openly approached or objectified by all the males. The president would serve the women he was interested in, and people would dance and flirt openly, so as either keep their jobs or get a promotion. I had a close male friend at the company and I told him I was gay. I slowly opened up to people that worked in my department, until my boss (same boss, a woman) called me to a separate room to tell me I shouldn’t be open about my sexuality, or I would be punished, and that if I had told her that I was “sexually depraved” when they first hired me, I wouldn’t have been hired.

my boss called me to a separate room to tell me I shouldn’t be open about my sexuality, or I would be punished

She went on and on about me not “coming out” to her – I never did, I told some people that were closer to me and they outed me to her. She claimed she was giving me an opportunity to explain myself and that it was very difficult for her to work with a women who had sexual deviations. I was so shocked, I was rude to her. I told her when she had mentioned being married, I didn’t imagine her husband and and her having sex, she should return the favor. This woman was so afraid of gay people, I went to a coworker’s wedding and she was there with her family and she didn’t allow me to touch her daughter, which was a cute one year old at the time and everyone was hugging and kissing the girl, and she was so adorable I approached the kid as a coworker had her in her lap and leaned forward so as to squeeze her cheek, as I often do with kids. She abruptly removed the girl from my coworker’s lap as my hand was still halfway to the girl’s cheek and she looked desperate. She tried to be polite and tell me she would rather I didn’t touch the girl. Later I learnt she was afraid I might either do something to the girl or ‘make her gay’. There was a lot of discrimination against gay people at the company and they would make jokes all the time. All kind of homophobic jokes and sayings. I had to keep quiet as to keep my job. It was the worst job I ever had.

It was the worst job I ever had.

A gay woman’s truly awful experience in Brazilian company where sexualising women was the norm

My name is X and I’m invisible. I don’t talk behind peoples’ backs, I don’t like drama. I like teaching. I didn’t really know what bullying was, at least not when I was a student. I knew it could happen at work, but I didn’t, and still don’t know, if that’s what really happened to me.
In my last school I witnessed a number of situations that involved someone in a higher hierarchy position bullying teachers. For years I kept quiet. I needed my job, I thought somehow it was all my fault. I thought that if I worked harder, if I was nicer and didn’t stand out, it would stop. It didn’t. It got worse. Two years ago I had to start therapy. Last year the doctor put me on antidepressants. Some months ago my health started to get worse and my body was screaming for help. I kept quiet, took more pills. I had (and still have) nightmares about the school. I went to bed and got up thinking about my DoS, I would have imaginary arguments with her while I was driving, letting out all that I couldn’t really say to her. I used to go to work anxious, not knowing whether she’d be in a good mood or not. What would she be complaining about that day. Some days I used to drive around, waiting until she had left and only then would I park and go to the school. I tried to meet her as little as I could. I didn’t want to hear her comments about other teachers. I did not want to hear her complain about her life, how much work she had, how incompetent everyone who worked at the school was. How she had blocked this and that teacher on Instagram because they had not invited her to a party or because they somehow threatened her authority. I didn’t want to hear the racist and homophobic jokes.
At some point I was forbidden to have ideas. Everything had to run through her. I had no autonomy whatsoever. She paid no attention to any of the work I did, but then would interfere with or sabotage it. Kept making me feel I was nothing. When someone praised my work she was quick to say it was no big deal and suggested I probably had had help or probably hadn’t done it myself. My health deteriorated and the doctor urged me to find another job. He increased my medication. I started having blood pressure problems. One day I went to a conference and decided to open up with a teacher I didn’t know very well, but for some reason I trusted her. I didn’t say much, but listened to her advice. I realized I was not alone. That my DoS wasn’t as powerful as she pretended to be. That day when I got home I realized I couldn’t go on like that. I decided to quit. I love teaching. I loved my projects and the team I worked with, but I felt isolated and didn’t talk to almost anyone. I was even afraid to go out for coffee with other teachers because I didn’t want them to get into trouble. I respect my director, but I didn’t think he would do anything. Who would believe me? I was just a teacher, she a DoS. She could excuse herself with management decisions. I had no witnesses. She knew what she was doing.
It sounds stupid and it sounds as if I’m a little thing too scared to do anything. I’m not. I’m a good person, I teach really difficult kids, like everyone I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in life, but never like this. After I decided to leave I realized other people at the school also felt like I did. She wasn’t just doing it to me, though I think I was the worst case. I started looking back and thought about the teachers who had left and had indicated it had been because of her. There were three. This had happened before. People started coming up to me, asking me not to leave and immediately understood why I was leaving, even though I never said a word. I tried to tell my director, but I couldn’t say everything. I didn’t mention the worst things that had happened. He said he greatly admired my ethics and would try to find out what was going on.
You probably think I’m an idiot and that that’s why she managed to do what she did. Perhaps. But we don’t all learn in the same way, do we? So why would you expect me to react as you would?
Thanks to #ELTtoo I found the courage to speak up. Most of the time I didn’t know what I was experiencing. I just thought it was an aggressive management style and that I had to put up with it. It’s impossible for me to tell you all the things that happened over the years.
If you are going through the same, please share your story. Contact the site. You are not alone. I found out there are more people like me, but there are also those who are willing to help, to give us a voice. In the end, I did quit. It was me or her and I didn’t believe she would be fired. Now I would have done things differently. I would have fought back.
Think about it, think about me. My name is X and I’m a teacher.

A misuse of power