Is my teacher gay (and does it matter)?
by mmann5 on November 4, 2013 - 8:48pm
Many people tend to focus on the current day homosexual or transgender student. But as there are lesbian doctors, gay lawyers and a myriad of other jobs held by the LBGT population, and secondary school teachers are included. According to J.B Mayo, Jr’s research, many people assume (and are sometimes correct) that teachers are usually too afraid to come out or help LGBT students. But he also found that LGBT teachers supported LGBT students even if it threatened their job or relationships with colleagues. This research comes from the prospective of a gay former middle school teacher (J.B Mayo, Jr. himself). In the study, the author met with multiple gay teachers, of which only 1 was openly gay. He held interviews with them and asked them about their experience with students coming out to them and creating safe environments for them. Each of them at least shared a mutual feeling of responsibility for gay students. Some said while it was not part of their job as a professional, they still worked with gay youth. It is stressed that for the school system to really help LGBT youth, all teachers and staff need to be involved, not just gay teachers. I think people tend to look at teachers as all knowing, 24/7 teaching machines, but they have their own lives and their own relationships. Since I went to a private high school, my experience is a bit different. I had the added factor of religious views sexuality within the school system. While it was not forbidden, it was not discussed in or outside classrooms. This study focused on public schools with their areas not disclosed to protect their identity. I think it was interesting to read the perspectives of the gay teachers on other gay students and the position they were in. It made me think of a teacher I had in high school, who was gay, but was unable to come out in fear of losing their job. Even students were fearful of coming out. It’s important that LGBT teachers are covered against discrimination and that with their acceptance, they can go forth with other gay and straight teachers and promote support for LGBT students.
Mayo Jr., J. B. (2008). Gay Teachers' Negotiated Interactions with Their Students and (Straight) Colleagues. High School Journal, 92(1), 1-10.