Bisexual and booted from the classroom

When sixth-grade students asked their new teacher whether he was gay, he told the truth, then changed the subject. But the other teachers and the school administrators kept the focus on his personal life from that point on

BY Anonymous

March 21 2005 12:00 AM ET

On the first day
of schoolóthe first day of my first teaching job as
a sixth grade teacheróI confronted two students using
extremely homophobic and derogatory words about
homosexuals. These students then asked me if I am gay.
I said yes. This caused such a big stir among the
sixth-grade students that I had to clarify myself as
being married to a woman, but having previously
identified as being gay, although now I am bisexual. The
students seemed to have many questions about this, but
instead of turning the day into a sexuality awareness
day, I changed the subject to the prescribed curriculum. The second day I arrived expecting a picket line
of Catholic parents protesting my position, but there
werenít. Later that day, though, I was pulled
aside by an administrator who had received a phone call from
a parent concerned about the discussion of sexuality.
The administrator told me to keep my
ìpersonalî life secret and not to discuss
sexuality with the students. Later I met other GLBT teachers and realized how
terrified they are about anybody knowing their sexuality. Over the following few weeks I endured many
students shouting slanderous antigay epithets at me.
Another teacher at the school pulled his own son from
my class. The first words of his reasoning referred to how
inappropriate it was to tell the students of my bisexuality. I was beginning to feel as if being bisexual is
a shameful thing, because the overriding culture of
the school was beginning to seem extremely homophobic. Two weeks later I was assigned a mentor, a
school administrator and former teacher, to support me
in teaching the curriculum and managing the classroom.
When he told me of his assignment, his first words were how
he would like to have fired me the first day of school
because being open about my bisexuality is completely
inappropriate in his mind. He then told me how devoutly Catholic he is. He did not allow me to play any more music, put
the students into small groups, or facilitate any art
projects. I was to teach strictly by the scripted
curriculum with the students sitting at desks in straight
lines. He did not allow any deviation from the curriculum. Apparently during this time he was accumulating
a folder of evidence proving how unsafe my classroom
is and how I refuse to teach the curriculum appropriately. Every time I would speak with the principal
about how I was doing, the principal would always
remind me that my having been open sexuality about my
sexuality had been a mistake. I was not supported by the administration, I was
failing my students because of the enforced lack of
undifferentiated instruction, and the parents started
complaining about me. The principal told me I gave the
students too much freedom and suggested I resign. I did. I
was growing tired of confronting such discrimination. I will take some time off now from teaching, but
I would like eventually to be a classroom teacher
again. I feel I have the right to be openly bisexual
and hope to find a place where such an opinion is respected. Every great teacher I ever had has always
brought his or her "private" life into the classroom
as a reference to the subject matter. Fortunately for
those teachers, they were straight religious types, with a
ìprivateî life accepted by mainstream culture. It
is such a shame that teachers without the
cookie-cutter lifestyle are censored and absolutely
frightened of anybody knowing exactly how they feel. I dream of a day when students and teachers can
have open and honest discussions without fear. Maybe
once gay people can be married to their same-sex
partners they can finally be teachers. I dare every teacher
to discuss gay equality as one of our countryís
civil rights.

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