LONDON, England – England’s National College for Teaching & Leadership is offering grants to school that hire or promote gay and transgender teachers, an effort some are slamming as “absolute nonsense.”

A $1.3 million Leadership Equality and Diversity Fund set up by the government agency is working in collaboration with the country’s Department of Education to solicit applications for $45,000 grants for schools that provide training for existing staff or recruit new staff, the Telegraph reports.

The program encourages applications targeted toward those with “protected characteristics” defined in the Equality Act 2010, which include age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity.

The application also states “a clear expectation of the funding is that 90 percent of participants will progress to next stage promotion within 12 months of completion of the programme,” according to the news site.

In other words, schools can essentially secure £30,000, or $45,000, if they agree to fast track transgender, gay, or others with “protected characteristics” to leadership positions.

““This programme encourages able teachers with potential, who might otherwise not have the confidence to compete for such roles without targeted intervention, to move into leadership roles,” a Department of Education spokesperson told the Telegraph.

“It is highly likely that this would include every school in the land,” said David Green, founder of the Civitas think tank, according to the Daily Mail. “I think it’s profoundly misguided and the money could be better spent on providing more teachers for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

“I would abolish the whole thing,” he said.

Minority party education secretary Lucy Powell agreed.

“We support moves to diversify school leadership so that it is more representative of the communities schools serve,” she told the Telegram. “However given the teacher shortage crisis in this country it is important that this funding is properly accounted for and is not being used simply to help plug gaps given the failure of Ministers to train enough teachers and at a time when more teachers are leaving the profession than ever before.”

The program is reportedly intended to address a lack of black and minority ethnic teachers, and was piloted in some schools last year.

One school won a grant to increase the number of male teachers, and another aimed to even the numbers of males and females in various positions.

The Telegraph reports:

In one case a school won funding to recruit more male staff or women who had given birth because it has too many senior female teachers who do not have children.

The same school also applied for help to employ older staff because an “audit identified the increasing number of young staff promoted to middle leader positions”.

In another case a Catholic school applied for funding to provide specialist training in religion for senior staff.

Conservative majority party member David Nuttall called the Diversity Fund “absolute nonsense.”

“Discrimination, positive or not, is still discrimination by its very nature,” he said. “It means someone somewhere is being discriminated against and I would always argue for a true equality where you don’t have positive discrimination at all, where you treat everyone equally.”

“The problem is that by having an artificial mechanism in place that guarantees one group special treatment over another not only is it patronizing to that group, but by definition it means that others who might be better qualified for promotion are discriminated against.”

A Department of education spokesman countered Nuttall’s claim of nonsense, with its own claim of nonsense.

Despite wording in the grant application clearly stating an expectation that participants are promoted quickly, the department contends “it is absolute nonsense to say that the people involved are promoted on the basis of diversity – all participants who apply for leadership roles must show they are the best person for the job to be successful,” according to the Daily Mail.

“Participants do not have to be promoted within 12 months,” the department alleges, “the compete for leadership roles on the same basis as other applicants, and will only succeed where they are the most suitable person for the role,” according to the spokesperson.

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