After writing about marriage equality in my classroom, I received some beautiful responses on marriage, equality and teachers. Have a read and be inspired.
I recently blogged about the issue of Marriage Equality which arose as a topic of conversation before one of my classes. It was a stark contrast to another class I was working in. Here I was very much in the closet as students shared family photos on their phones, and I hoped against hope that they didn’t ask to see my photos (of my loved ones).
It was a raw, personal post . To be honest, I didn’t expect too much of a response. There’s often silence on LGBTIQ issues in education, among teachers, and on twitter. And that silence can make it quite confronting to write on such LGBTIQ topics. It often feels isolating and lonely but I refuse to stay quiet. I know first hand the incredible costs and sadness of silence.
Then – something quite wonderful happened, some teachers wrote to me. Their words and actions lifted and inspired me. They filled me with hope – when I really needed hope for the future. With their kind permission, their responses are reproduced below.
I wanted to drop you a note to say that I appreciated your latest blog post. I talk about heterosexual privilege in my health classes and you story resonated. I ask students to consider whether I would have been able to emigrate to the USA on a Fiancè visa had my true love been a man.
Since arriving here things seemed to improve for the LGBTQ community…..until Trump got in and it’s been horrible. I have a transgender boy in my class – as soon as Trump won he went and had all of his documents (passport, drivers license etc) changed to show that he was male as he feared that that right might have been taken away from him in the ensuing months.
Hope all is well. Keep pushing the envelope!
Greg – After reading your pinned Tweet I really felt I should tell you my story.
Here in California it’s become easier and easier to be an “out” teacher. About three years ago I switched schools with the intention to start over out of the closet 100%. So, at the end of my interview at a nearby elementary school I asked about whether they teach tolerance or whether they have anti-bullying policies. Fortunately, they had both in place at their school. Then I explained this was especially important to me because in one year I planned to marry my long-term same-sex partner and change my name.
Now, I sat there in the interview, over-qualified and already tenured in that district, but still it was a risk. I knew other teachers were interviewing for this position and they could select another teacher without having to provide any explanation. However, it was a risk I was willing to take. I wanted to be married, I wanted to be me, and I wanted to teach.
Within days I got the job and so there was no looking back. I had a not-so-subtle engagement ring (floral, not outlandish, but not subtle) and I put pictures of my partner and I out on my desk. In my first Back-to-School Night presentation I included one slide about myself and mentioned getting recently engaged. I included a photo of my partner and I. The room got quiet as I cheerfully talked about my multicultural family and my wedding plans. I was terrified, but acted calm. I said, I want you (the parents) to feel safe to be honest with me, so I’m being honest with you. I told them how lucky I felt to work at this school and to be a teacher.
Now it’s been three years. I’m married and my whole staff knows my wife. She helps me in my classroom to set up each year and she attends faculty events. Last year we hosted a retirement party in our backyard!
When my wife drops me off to work sometimes, we both wave at the students doing safety patrol. The parents of my class president last year just invited the two of us to dinner with their family. I love my school.
I still get nervous each year with each new class, but I feel being honest about who I am has become part of why I’m here on Earth. If I save only one child from feeling alone, or even suicidal, it’s been worth all my nerves.
This year, at the end of my Back-to-School presentation, one mom thanked me for my honesty and then opened up to me about a family tragedy the year before. I was so sad to hear her news, but proud of us both for being willing to be so open with one another. I told her how much I appreciated her honesty and that we’d work together to support her son.
I hope over time your whole world will open its arms to you, but in the meantime, remember to be yourself when you can, be brave and take risks. Your different worlds may surprise you.
So, here are some big California hugs from this San Francisco teacher. Know that there are a lot of us out here in the world and you are not alone.
Marriage, Equality and Teachers (Resources)
- Looking for teaching tips and insights on LGBTIQ issues in education? Check out my resource page.
- Listen to my podcast Pushing The Edge with Greg Curran. I chat to inspiring teachers and community leaders who are pushing the edge for innovation and social justice in education.
- Read my most recent post – talking about marriage in my adult English Language Learner classroom (click on the image below)