It feels good not hiding being gay | @kellkell85

Anna Kellner (@kellkell85)  is a Maths teacher at a high school in Scotland

Anna KellnerMy name is Anna, I have been working as a high school maths teacher for around four and a half years. I live a pretty standard life: I am married with a one year old son and I play hockey. People don’t usually expect me to be a maths teacher, it must be because of my two eyebrow piercings and numerous ear piercings.

I have always been out to my colleagues, in my first job I was planning my wedding so I couldn’t contain my excitement. I am no good at keeping secrets from friends and I have got on well with all the teachers I have worked with. My current school is the first one where I have been out to my pupils too, it also happens to be the first school where I have a permanent contract.

We found out my wife was pregnant in February 2013, I was overjoyed, I have always wanted to be a mum.  I found it harder  and harder to contain my excitement as we got closer to the due date. I had started hinting at classes that I would be off for two weeks soon but I didn’t tell them why.

Up until that point I had done the usual things: used gender neutral pronouns when talking about my wife and made jokes to avoid answering questions about my ‘husband’.

My son was born three weeks early so I ended up not being as prepared as I would have liked, my oldest class, who I’d already told, sent me a message on edmodo with their congratulations. I came back after two weeks ‘paternity’ leave and openly told my classes that I had been off for the birth of my son. Of course they knew I hadn’t given birth so they asked and I told them that my wife had. None of my classes made any comments about my being married to a woman, most pupils seemed happy for me for becoming a mother.

That was a year ago now and I am glad I am out at school, it feels good not hiding being gay, it should not be something to be ashamed of. It is easier not watching what I say and being able to talk about my son and wife openly.

I haven’t really mentioned what pupils said, mostly because nothing has changed in the way that we interact with each other. There was no big reveal followed by a stunned silence. I am glad that we have all carried on as if nothing has changed, because nothing has.

I don’t know if the phrase ‘that’s so gay’ is going out of fashion or kids just don’t use it around me, but I hope it’s the former. I am glad to live in a place where sexuality isn’t an issue and I look forward to the day when my wife and I will be able to convert our civil partnership into a marriage.

The Crying Shame of Denying LGBT Teachers Their Authenticity | @ShaunDellenty

Shaun Dellenty (@ShaunDellenty).

Imagine

A new term, you’re starting to feel that you have established yourself with parents and pupils. You remain instinctively cautious on entering unfamiliar contexts; a side effect of years of school-based bullying, resulting in lapses onto anxiety medication.

You lay awake last night, eyes fixed on a patch of ceiling as you struggled to quieten anxious voices; in the morning, with resolve and refusal to live the rest of your life in inauthenticity-you make your decision.

Read more at Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/shaun-dellenty/lgbt-teachers_b_6077366.html

LGBT role models in the teaching profession | @Innervoices2011

A piece by Ed Watkins, Teacher at the West London Free School

ed watkinsNothing makes the rightness of Harvey Milk’s call to normalise ourselves through coming out more accurate than the huge change in attitudes towards our community in the USA and its close correlation with the increase in the number of people who know someone who is gay. Now that this trend is a part of life in the Western world it can be easy to forget how rare it is for this step to be taken in secondary school. The playground can still be a hostile environment for young gay people, particularly at Key Stage 3.

I started at the West London Free School when in opened in 2011 and from the off was encouraged by the supportive attitude of the other staff towards ensuring that the school is a safe, supportive place for young LGBT students. Having worked in a Catholic school where homosexuality didn’t even get a mention in the PSHE lessons on discrimination it was refreshing to experience unambiguous openness from governors, leadership and staff.

In Year 9 the school decided to start approaching sex and relationship education in depth and one de-timetabled day included an hour on sexuality. I was very pleased that the suggestion came from our Deputy Head. This was given over to me and in the run up to the day I gave some thought to what would happen if a pupil asked if I was gay. My worries centred around the possibility that it would impact on my ability to be a role model to boys who enjoy singing and get in the way of our successful attempts to achieve gender balance in our choirs and ensembles. Alongside this I entered the day assuming that the insecurity Year 9s feel about their burgeoning sexuality (straight or otherwise) would make the environment quite homophobic.

In reality I found that many of our Year 9s were remarkably open. Some were indeed uncomfortable about homosexuality and for them the day was a useful opportunity to discuss the topic rather than to simply be told they were wrong. In particular many of the students were receptive to the idea that, in changing room terms, same sex attraction means being attracted to some members of the same sex as opposed to all of them!

At the end of the day, as predicted, I was asked by a child whether I was gay:

‘Yes, but you knew that already didn’t you’

Seemed like the right answer. After a warm reception at the assembly that followed the pupils went off and, judging by the following email from a parent, shared their thoughts back at home:

Just a quick message to say a BIG WELL DONE for the way you handled today’s class. Obviously I asked how it went as we had an email about it. Tom said it went well and he said you were asked a personal question and told us what you said. Tom said he thinks it was very brave of you and in his not so eloquent words you are now WELL RATED !!! for being honest and that’s how all the kids felt.

Other communications from parents have been universally positive, including from those who are worried about their own children being able to grow up in a safe and understanding environment.

Following on from that day I’ve found it much easier to deal with any passing homophobic language as the pupils understand more clearly why it might not be ideal. It’s also easier to do so without making a big deal of it, the usual lecture on why it might be offensive is implicit in the reprimand. No pupil has acted in anyway differently and my worries about it having any effect on my teaching were unfounded, more a reflection of my own projections than anything else.

 

“The West London Free School is very lucky to have someone like Ed on its staff. His honesty and straightforwardness about his sexuality has had a really positive influence on the pupils.”

Toby Young, co-founder, West London Free School

To come out or not to come out? by @EducateCelebrat

Teachers: To come out or not to come out?

Elly Barnes, CEO and Founder of the UK’s Educate & Celebrate organization, says that the decision whether the come out or not remains a pressing concern for LGBT teachers today
Despite Section 28 being repealed in the United Kingdom 11 years ago, being ‘out’ is still an issue for many teachers today.

– See more at: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/teachers-come-out-or-not-come-out290914