Happy New Year 2009!
Correspondence with a Gay Teacher
From: A Teacher
I recently read an article about you visiting a school to talk about homophobia in schools. As a gay teacher I have to deal with this every day. I am not out to my students though I have students ask me and I tell them the truth (so far only gay students ask one on one). I do have a rainbow triangle on my door saying it is a diversity safe zone and have rainbow borders in my room; I am trying at least to give hints. I am out to the staff at work though. I am the only one out at my school which I consider strange it being the arts school for the board. I do think it is important because we do have more GLBT students.
You would think that the administration would be more open minded being an arts school but instead the school and the board have done everything to silence the students. In the past students tried to start a straight/gay alliance and I was willing to be the teacher sponsor, but each time a student tried to start one it got squashed. I myself, have a Principal that complained to me that I always define myself as the "gay teacher." And I have issues that other teachers feel is homophobia against me. The Principal just doesn't understand.
I try my best with pamphlets etc, but nothing seems to work to get this issue to be brought to the forefront. I know you probably will not be able to come to my school but if you ever find yourself close to my neck of the woods I know that your presence would force my school and board to take notice.
Thank you for your time (please do not publish this)
From Ian McKellen: I am sorry you didn¹t want me to post your e-mail on www.mckellen.com as many readers would have been educated by your problem.
It is very typical of schools in UK—hence the importance of Stonewall's initiative in supplying schools with aims and devices for tackling homophobia in the class room and in the playground. Probably what is needed is a mentor in each school to help gay staff and students—your principal is wrong to discourage you in that role. Dare you go above his head to the school¹s governors whose job it is to protect the pupils? I wish you well, with the greatest sympathy for your problems and admiration for your trying to deal with them. —Ian McKellen
The teacher responds: I appreciate you comments very much. I actually am mentoring a gay student right now and told him about your letter (he a big fan of yours) and it helped him deal a bit with his own situation. He was kicked out of the house when he came out to his parents but he is back home now. About a month ago, he wrote me a poem (I have a writers' group club) which was based on him getting kicked out. I talked to him later about it and he came out to me and than I came out him. Since then he wrote a one act play based on his experience of getting kicked out. I have been helping him with it, I normally direct student generated plays for a local festival we have here, and am hoping to do his this year.
Since coming out to him we talk all the time and he asks me advice on gay culture etc. I thought about your request about publishing my e-mail. I have no problem if you just don't put my name and location to it. Hopefully, one day it won't matter but at least I am still connecting with students, and helping them one student at a time. thanks again
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