Cathedral Building

Another Teaching Blog

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I find myself checking, among other things, schools’ anti-discrimination policy as a matter of course.

To me it’s basic procedure: Do they require an MA or a BA?  How much experience is required?  Do they include sexual orientation in their protections list or don’t they?

Some do, some don’t.

Others find this odd, sometimes deplorable.  What surprises me is not the friends or acquaintances that are surprised that I’d HAVE to check, but those who are offended by the fact that I check at all: “Why does it even matter?  What, are you planning on talking about it in the classroom?”

It just makes me want to ask, “Do I know you?  Have we met?”

Instead, my answer is this:

No.  I’m not planning on talking about my sex life to my students.  I don’t have one to speak of, not that it’s any of your business, but there’s the rub: people think it IS their business.  So forgetting the students for a minute, consider…

Consider the teachers’ lounge conversation.  When all the other professionals talk about their private lives like adults, I need to know whether or not I can be fired for joining the discussion.  You know, scandalous things like seeing a movie with someone or a dinner someone is meeting me for.

Consider the supermarket.  If a student bumps into me there am I going to have to have a story about who the woman is that I might be buying lunch ingredients with?  What happens when someone catches us holding hands somewhere?  Because if a parent has a problem with my “public display” of existing in a public space with a same-sex partner and that comes back to the school, I need to know if I’m still going to have a job.

This is ignoring the students.  This is ignoring what might happen if I wanted to have a picture of my family, if I was at that point in my life, on my desk (even if it was facing away from the students).  This is ignoring that early point in the school year where we talk about “different kinds of families” and I need to know whether I’m allowed to include any same-sex parents alongside the images of all the other familial combinations that are appropriate to talk about (two parents, one parent, grandparents, parents and aunts and uncles, foster and adoptive parents…etc.).  And if you think that’s unnecessary to include, tell that to the first-grader who recognized the arrangement I had to slip in under the radar — a mother and a godmother and no dad “but that’s okay,” one included in a picture book — because she lived with her foster mother and her mother’s partner.  Before that lesson she’d been afraid to mention her “TiTi” at all because she knew it was different, and didn’t want her mother — either mother — to be made fun of.

I’m not bringing sex into the classroom.  I’m making sure that all of my students feel included and valuable. I’m (one day, one can hope) living a life outside of the classroom that, to some people, counts as grounds for dismissal. 

So yes.  This is the reality for many LGBTQ teachers.  We have to check.  Because two words can mean the difference between having a classroom and an open life outside of it, or choosing between one and the other.

Filed under education lgbtq gay teachers

  1. rightmaow reblogged this from shapefutures
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    Oh my, this.
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