Would an ‘out’ teacher have made a difference to you?
I’ve been teaching on and off for a few years – mostly extra curricular things, which mean I’m working with students on short and long term courses but never exactly been the teacher. Next year I am taking up a full time teaching position where I will be a permanent member of the school faculty and one thing that I keep mentally chewing on is whether or not to be out, when to be out and how to be out. Is it worth the guaranteed hassle that would come with it?
It would certainly be easier to keep it quiet. No one has to know is a seductive idea, and there is a lot to be said for maintaining a private life that has nothing to do with your students ever. Yet students often know the basics about their teachers, especially in the older years – whether they are married or have kids or maybe a dog. It wouldn’t be hugely out of line with my straight colleagues if it were known I was gay, though I imagine there will be staff, students and parents who will think otherwise.
Am I over estimating the importance of teachers as role models when I think that it would make a difference to have a member of staff be obviously and undeniably allied to the LGBT community? Could it make a difference to the attitude of any student (whether accepting themselves or others)? I’m honestly not sure it would have made a difference to me. If one of the cool, popular, younger teachers had been out then perhaps that would have been a bonus but likewise I can think of many other teachers who, had they been out, could conceivably have made things an awful lot worse.
I would be interested in readers’ opinions – would it have made a difference to you or someone you know? For better or worse?