By Joel Ekdahl
The story that stood out to me most was “Ms. G Is a Lesbian” by Teri Gruenwald. This story stood out to me because I really identify with Teri. Like her, I am a gay teacher who is not out to his students. It was really refreshing to see how she strategically “came out” without having to make a public announcement. In my classroom, I definitely do small things to indicate that I am queer man. I talk openly about LGBT issues, I use the “they” pronoun to identify my partner, and I often used gay mannerisms in class. These small gestures make it really easy for my LGBT students to know I am gay and I am never afraid to tell them if they ask. But they also protect me from parent scrutiny and scorn.
The purpose of these stories is to explain the struggles and triumphs of LGBT teachers in America. It’s easy for LGBT teachers to feel like they are the only ones, but these stories show the vast numbers of LGBT teachers and students that populate our schools. It’s also a way to help teachers build social networks with other LGBT teachers. Lastly, these stories function to create awareness around heteronormativity in schools. These are important stories for straight teachers and administrators to consider when building professional development.
I personally believe that the narrative form works well for this purpose. A case study format would be way too scientific for this form of teacher knowledge. LGBT teachers are not numbers, they are people with complex feelings and experiences. The narrative format also allows LGBT teachers to properly explain how their experiences have changed over time. The narrative form is also particularly well-suited for creating an emotional appeal.
- Jennings, K. (1994). One teacher in 10: gay and lesbian educators tell their stories. Boston: Alyson Publications.