“I flirt with all of my female colleagues, but it’s completely platonic – I’m gay! So I certainly don’t think it’s an issue in terms of conduct.”
We use the term flirting quite freely, but according to Wikipedia, “flirting is a common form of social interaction by one person that obliquely indicates a romantic or sexual interest towards another.” Going by this definition, this young man doesn’t really flirt with his female colleagues.
Students discussing this topic recently at a university agreed that the setting of any flirtation is really significant. If it’s done in front of students, it’s not appropriate or professional, regardless of whether or not there is any physical attraction. However, if it’s done in the staff room it might be acceptable depending on whether it would cause embarrassment to others. If it was done with some discretion and between consenting adults they all agreed, it is harmless. After all, don’t most people meet their long-term partners in the work-place?
I guess the problem is where the dividing line is between one person’s “harmless banter” and another’s “sexual harassment”.
Is it alright to flirt with colleagues in school? Or do you think that all flirtatious and sexualised banter should be moved outside of the school setting?
What do you think?
Alan Newland worked as a teacher and headteacher in London for over 20 years and as a teacher trainer and then for the DfE and the GTC. He now lectures on teaching and runs the award-winning social media network newteacherstalk. You can follow him on Twitter at @newteacherstalk or book him for a talk on professional values and ethics. His new book “Working in Teaching” (Crimson Publishing) is published in March 2014.