Any LGBT teachers?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by silverspoon65, Sep 9, 2008.

  1. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    I had a heart to heart today with my newest teacher in my department. She is a lesbian - I have known this for awhile since I knew her before she was hired. Only 2-3 other teachers in the school know this even though she student taught with me last year as well.

    She has always been a very "out" person since she discovered her sexuality. She has never hidden it from anyone, but she decided last year as she started her career and was student teaching that she should probably keep it to herself. Now she is worried about coming out because she isn't sure she will have the full support of the administration and parents.

    In addition to the normal frustrations and struggles of any first year teacher, she is having a hard time fitting in with some of the other teachers. Today she told me she stopped eating lunch with other teachers and started eating in her room, because all people talk about are their personal lives at lunch and she feels left out or that she has to lie. She can't talk about her girlfriend when everyone else talks about their significant others.

    She also feels a little like a sell-out in front of the students. She wants to model an open and tolerant lifestyle, but she has to lie when kids ask her questions. And for the record, she is not all about talking about her personal life with the kids, but we all know they ask questions. If my kids ask me what I did for the weekend, I don't hesitate to say that I went to the movies with my boyfriend, but she can't say that.

    I just want to help her. She finally broke down in tears today. She wants to know she has the full support of the administration before she starts coming out, but she doesn't feel like some of them would be very supportive. I suggested she talk to one administrator that I am sure would be very supportive and see what he says, and that I would go with her if she wanted.

    Any other advice I can pass along? Any books or resources I can point out to her? Thanks so much!
     
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  3. Canadian Gal

    Canadian Gal Habitué

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    I teach in Canada and I know several LGBT teachers. Most the teachers I've known have never kept their sexuality a secret, however they also don't announce it, because some parents can be very rude. I really don't know what advice to pass along except that I give her a virtual hug, because no one should have to experience that.
     
  4. Yank7

    Yank7 Habitué

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    I don't think a teacher's personnel buisness is anyones but their own.I don't really see why she should discuss what she does or who she goes out with with anyone,especially her students. Why not discuss what you do with your fellow teachers without telling them who you do it with. Your sexual preferance should have nothing to do with how good a teacher you are,and that is the only thing that should matter in your school.
     
  5. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Not that there's anything wrong with it.
     
  6. TampaTeacher

    TampaTeacher Comrade

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    There is an openly gay teacher at my school. She brings her partner to the holiday parties and other staff events. From what I've seen, everyone has been really supportive and friendly, even the folks who I suspect might have personal religious objections. This teacher is awesome and people seem to like and respect her.

    But who knows how it might be at another school?
     
  7. TampaTeacher

    TampaTeacher Comrade

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    I was thinking about exactly what you're saying, and was going to say something similar. But then I realized that my students know that I'm married. If I had kids, they'd know that. They certainly know my husband and I bought a new puppy over the summer, because I wrote about it in Writer's Workshop.

    I agree we shouldn't share truly personal information, but I think it's normal to make casual references about your life. If I were gay, I guess that would be one of the awkward parts of the job - keeping a major part of my life completely under wraps, or risking possible repercussions.
     
  8. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    Her issue isn't so much with the students as with other teachers.

    Our school is like a big family. They are always in everyone's business because they care about us. I always get asked when my DBF and I are getting married. Maybe I should tell people to mind their own business but I enjoy working in an environment where people care about ME, not just about my teaching.

    She is torn between just talking about her personal life (which means parents and kids can find out) and basically sidestepping any personal questions she is asked (which sometimes is point blank are you seeing anyone?) and being super careful to use gender neutral pronouns ("the person I am seeing...") and not correcting them when someone assumes she is talking about her boyfriend.

    Honestly, I think straight teachers probably talk more about their personal lives than they think, they just aren't as conscious of it because they don't feel like they need to hide it. Think about how many times you have casually mentioned your family, a SO, had pictures in your room that might include a SO, gotten a phone call or email from a SO after school while there were teachers or students in the room... No teacher should have to hide that, or work in an environment that's so cold that no one talks about their personal life.
     
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  9. sarypotter

    sarypotter Comrade

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    I try to always remember that honesty is not a crime, nor should I be ashamed of being honest. I should never be made to feel as though I'm supposed to lie, that lying is the "right" thing to do, and neither should anyone else.

    Thus, when coworkers ask about my partner, I am honest.

    I am a lesbian and partnered with a transgendered man. I do not discuss my personal life with students, but coworkers often ask, and if they ask, I answer.

    Usually.

    I am NOT comfortable yet talking about my partner being trans because I just barely got comfortable being honest about my partner being a woman, and it turns out he isn't.

    But what I won't do is lie. I get very tired of people insinuating that if asked about my personal life, I should lie because "it's nobody's business." It's nobody's business who the math teacher down the hall is married to, either, but that doesn't mean she doesn't talk about her husband all the time and bring him to school functions. The school community doesn't always mind its business, but that doesn't mean I should feel compelled to lie or that I should feel like honesty -- or my personal life -- is somehow wrong.

    Sorry, that was pretty garbled, wasn't it? I'm tired. It's been a long, bad day.

    PMing you with more resources.
     
  10. TampaTeacher

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    Silverspoon,

    Hee. When I hear repeated gender-neutral pronouns, I don't assume the person is speaking of a partner of the opposite sex. I instantly think, "Hmmm ... I wonder if she/he's gay?"

    But I had a gay roommate, a gay sister-in-law, and dated a guy who later dated men (whole other story!! No, I didn't "turn" him :) ), so maybe I've picked up a bit of the ol' gay-dar myself. lol
     
  11. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    Just wondering WHEN you made that decision. I think she is nervous about being a first year teacher. Did you wait until you were tenured to talk about it? Or were you just honest from the start?

    I think what you said is really all she wants. She doesn't want to go screaming around the school "Hey, I'm Gay!!!!" But she doesn't want to lie when asked a point blank question either, and I can see how much it is hurting her to do so.

    Thanks for the responses so far everyone!
     
  12. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    Sep 9, 2008

  13. sarypotter

    sarypotter Comrade

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    I totally understand her predicament. Tell her to hang in there. I didn't wait till I was tenured -- I'm actually not tenured yet. I know this is easier to say than to feel, but I figure if the environment is so hostile that they want to get rid of me for who I'm partnered with, I don't want to make a career there anyway. I give up enough to be a teacher -- sleep, food, the right to decide when during my workday I get to go to the bathroom! I'm not willing to give up my right to be honest and form relationships with my coworkers.

    My first year, I awkwardly skirted all personal questions and it alienated me from the staff. My second year, I started being honest. It's not like I'm taking out ads in the paper or shouting from the rooftop, but I'm answering direct questions and no one has freaked out yet, although I've gotten some eyebrow-raises. I prefer how it makes me feel to be honest, regardless of reactions.

    Hope that helps.
     
  14. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Good luck and wishes to your friend. Obviously it's still an issue even today, though I don't really think it should be. She should check on whatever legal protections she has, just in case.

    Usually, when I hear gender-neutral pronouns used in reference to a SO, I assume there's a pretty strong possibility they're gay. I'd always thought it was how homosexuals would let people know without the bluntness of just coming out and saying it.

    I'd think you'd want pretty strong support from administration before you let it out to parents. Kudos to you, sarypotter -- though you shouldn't judge the raised eyebrows too harshly; if they've already known you for a year, it's probably something of a surprise.
     
  15. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    I guess it would all depend on the school atmosphere and how open she wants to be about it. I know of 2 women who are lesbians. One keeps her private life to herself and has always been accepted. Everyone knows. It's no secret but like I wouldn't talk about what me and my husband do at home, she doesn't talk about her business. Now, the other one I know. She didn't fit in too well. She would talk openly about things and it made several uncomfy. She also talked too much in front of the students. She didn't stay long in the school. She went to another school and was doing great there until she did something totally stupid and not anything related to being gay.
     
  16. Go 4th

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    I think she should just tell them. At some point, it will come out anyway--she may run into people at Walmart, or out to eat, somewhere with her partner. If other teachers are turned off by what she does privately, then it is their issue and not hers. She looks like the better person for coming forward, instead of trying to hide it. Who she is sexually active with doesn't change who she is as a teacher.

    I just think that as teachers we have to be more open. Yeah, I'm naive.

    Give her a big hug and tell her that regardless of her sexuality, she is welcome here!
     
  17. Jem

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    One of the teachers at our school has a partner, and it's pretty out there. Their son attends our pre-school, so her partner picks him up on certain days, and she's great. So is the teacher. I don't think anyone has a problem with it-she's a great person and a great teacher and that's what matters! I think she should just slip it into conversations-that's how this teacher told us. Totally non-nonchalant.
     
  18. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    Just wanted to update - I cut and paste what you said here to her in an email, and she was inspired to become more open at work. She joined the lgbt teacher forum you sent. We also talked about administration and we decided there was probably one AP who was good to talk to. She talked to him today, and it turned out to be a good choice because he has been working on adding a sexual orientation clause to our district's non-discrimination policy. He gave her a realistic view of what might happen when people start to find out, but overall he seemed to think people would respond pretty well. He is going to push the non-discrimination policy now that its a more urgent issue, and she decided after the conversation that she feels comfortable honestly answering questions about her personal life at work.

    Thank you for all your help, from me and from her!
     
  19. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    "People first" descriptions are now PC...

    Child with autism versus Autistic child

    Person with diabetes vs diabetic person

    teacher who is lesbian vs lesbian teacher...

    It's a bit more humanistic but you can define yourself however you wish...
     
  20. Lindsay.Lou

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    :( I feel so bad for your coworker/friend. That's a tough spot. I'd love to tell you that you should encourage her to be open about her personal life, but the unfortunate reality is that she can't be sure everyone will accept her. I don't blame her for wanting to be sure she has the administration's support. At this point, all I would advise is that you continue to be a great friend / ear to listen / shoulder to cry on.
     
  21. 3Sons

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    :crosseyed:crosseyed

    This smacks of PC-overload to me.

    The main issue I see with "lesbian teacher" is how do you really know all your students are lesbians, and aren't secretly just straight people acting that way to look cool? :D:D
     
  22. daizie75

    daizie75 Rookie

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    Hilarious :lol:
     
  23. lilmisses1014

    lilmisses1014 Comrade

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    I don't have any advice, but I did want to say that it's wonderful your co-worker has someone like you for support. I'm also happy to read that the AP was so supportive! :)
     
  24. MissFroggy

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    I'm a teacher who is a lesbian, not a teacher of lesbians! Ha ha !!! Maybe someday!
     
  25. ChangeAgent

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    I had the same issue when I began student teaching. I had four different cooperating teachers, and came out to three of them to discuss their thoughts. They were supportive, but uncertain how to answer.

    Last year, I was hired in the same building, and so some already knew I was gay. Others found out just via conversation--the new teachers I hung out with were great, so it wasn't awkward. During some happy hours we arranged, my boyfriend joined us. He joined me to some school events (could going to a school musical with a boyfriend be any more stereotypically gay? haha!). I have not come across anyone who has treated me harshly.

    I have not told my students, though I know it can be rather obvious I'm gay (you know, the whole essentialism/constructivism argument is maddening at times!). Last year, a student asked if I was gay in front of the whole class . . . I didn't say yes or no, but responded in some way, which basically translated to a "yes" I'm sure.

    My concern this year came with my co-teacher. She asked me what she should say if a student asks her about me. I told her to respond however. I think this makes me frustrated, since others shouldn't have to be concerned about saying anything for me. I'd be fine with her saying "yes."

    As to the original post, I too struggle with being open and not hypocritical. I do a coming-of-age unit with my ninth graders and a multicultural unit with my tenth grade students. I feel almost dishonest when I encourage students to explore their own perceptions and ways of being when I don't mention mine.

    I also feel as though I should be a model. By me "hiding" (again, I don't do that very well with my mannerisms and such, but I don't say or mention anything specific) my sexual orientation, I do not want to send the hidden message that "it is okay to be yourself, but don't say anything in a professional setting." I talk with my coworkers, and it doesn't matter. I don't mention it to my students at this point, but for those who figure it out, should I do more? (This is a rhetorical question)

    I encourage any teacher who is LGBTQ to find coworkers who they can be open with. It doesn't mean I go to those workers for personal advice, but I can note if my boyfriend and I are up to anything, or they invite us, and so on. The things straight people in relationships do.

    And, honestly, I'll admit, it's nice added humor on stressful days.

    Co-worker: "I can't cut this straight."
    Me: "Neither can I."
     
  26. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    :lol:
     
  27. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    So, you can be very open about your life style and you don't take "crap" from anyone, but someone with another lifestyle is forced to switch schools because you don't like something they said to you. Interesting.
     
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  28. Peregrin5

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    Old thread zombie. But my take is if someone directly asks me if I'm gay, I'm not going to lie about it. I've had students in the past ask me if I had a boyfriend (because they internet-stalked me or saw me around with him), and I would just say "yes". The less ashamed you are of it, the less likely students will be to use it against you. My first year when I tried to hide it, I would get so many kids writing gay slurs on their assignments and using anti-gay language to each other. I don't even think they suspected it at that time, but when kids knew someone that was gay, especially their teacher, they've had to watch their language and their behavior a lot more. Having openly gay role-models is nearly essential for students.

    Actually the most awkward question I get is "do you have a girlfriend?" or "are you married?" because they connote a female partner, and I say no, but I feel like that's not giving them the full story, and they end up thinking I'm just single instead of gay. lol! I'd rather they just ask if I am gay.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2016
  29. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    My school has many staff members that identify as gay or lesbian. We have a thriving Gay/Straight Alliance that is student driven. I'm sad that other places would be more closed or even hostile to sexual identities. It's never come up.
     
  30. FourSquare

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    I'm honestly not sure. They seem to be doing fundraisers, so I suspect they raise most of their funding themselves. The teacher that helps organize the club gets paid an hourly rate from a general after school fund. I don't think any of the clubs get an actual budget. My student council does, but that project is a little different.
     
  31. Peregrin5

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    I just got a call that one of our LGBT students took their life this break... Another reason why it is so important that students have out LGBT teachers as role-models, especially in this current political climate.
     
  32. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I don't think it was bullying as he was a senior. I don't know if his family was supportive but given the timing that this happened during a break where he would have close contact with all sorts of family members and given my knowledge of the community I teach in, as well as the heated election we just got out from and the harsh opinions and views it's empowered and elicited in many families, I would say there is a high likelihood that this all culminated in a perfect storm...
     
  33. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I'm so sorry, Peregrin.
     
  34. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    MANY mental hugs in your directions.
     
  35. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    We have a lesbian teacher at my school who is definitely "out" amongst the staff. She actually just had a baby this past year. To my knowledge it was never something she felt needed to be a secret, at least with other staff members. When she got pregnant, our P announced the baby at a staff meeting and gave her a little gift just like she has done with everyone else. This teacher stood up, laughed and said, "Come see me if you have any questions." That said, I live in a fairly liberal area and I could see it being different in a more conservative, small town/rural area. I'm honestly not sure what, if anything she has told her students. Obviously they know she had a baby, but I'm not sure if she talks about her wife with her class. She teaches Kindergarten. One of my best friends is also on the K team, and I know she talks about her husband with her class ("Mr K teacher and I went to the movies this weekend" etc.) so it would be a double standard if the other teacher felt that she couldn't talk about her wife.
     
  36. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    In my old, very small school, we had quite a few students with same-sex parents. One pair of siblings had two mothers and two fathers who lived next door to each other. I remember when the son was in K and told his classmates that he had two of each parent. The other kids said, "You can't have," and he said, "Well, I do," and that was the end of the questions. (In a strange way, it was similar to another child in that class announcing that he lived in a castle. In fact, he was from Germany and did live in a castle.)
     
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  37. Ima Teacher

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    I work in a very rural area. I have worked with two openly gay/lesbian teachers. I'm sure there are others. I only knew the others were because I knew them personally. It was never an issue.
     
  38. Obadiah

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    I am so sorry to hear about this. My thoughts and prayers are with your school community.
     
  39. allaragallagher

    allaragallagher Comrade

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    My first year, we had an openly gay teacher. I thought she must have a hard time in this rural area but everyone seemed to treat her well and she is missed now that she has taken a job elsewhere.
     
  40. Riv

    Riv Rookie

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    I am lesbian and am out, but when I was offered a teaching job at a religious school I declined because I was so afraid of them finding out and risk getting fired because of it. I then decided I should get certified and work for the state where I am protected (although I think only in certain states) and now I face the same fear. How to side step those questions? How to be sure to speak in gender neutral? It sounds incredibly difficult. And I am a very open person by nature. I think this was last posted in 2008, it is now 2016, any changes? Can we be OUT or do we face repercussions from teachers/parents?
     
  41. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    All states should offer protections for LGBT employees. It's illegal to discriminate on that basis for federal and state jobs.

    In my experience, the more you try to hide it the more annoyances you'll face later one when they inevitably find out. If you're open from the get go then nobody really makes it a big deal. My policy has been to not go out of my way to mention my relationship, but if someone outright asks me, I will tell them I am gay and have a boyfriend. This information is easily searchable on me on the internet, and kids generally find out anyway without me having to tell them.

    I will not say that you won't face repercussions from parents or possibly even other teachers. I've had parents accuse me to my principal of "making eyes" at their children. They obviously didn't mention that they only said that because their kid was frequently in trouble and they're trying to shift the blame elsewhere and that they are making that accusation simply on the basis of me being gay and them being "god-fearing Trump supporters", but it was pretty obvious that was the reason.

    I've heard of teachers be threatened with assault from parents for "turning their child gay". Teachers work with a wide variety of families, and to be honest, some parents are simply insane, or at the very least close-minded and bigoted. If you have a good admin, they'll be able to read between the lines, and run interference for you with crazy parents.
     

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