Sunday, April 3, 2011
Out in the Classroom
I have selected this picture, and it's not a particularly good one, but it's where this week's entry took place; in my classroom.
I came out to two of my parents this week. One was a parent brand new to the school, and I've known the other since her son was identified gifted in third grade. In the first instance, the parent told me of problems her son had had at his prior school, he was bullied because of perceived traits. His classmates thought he acted gay; he was called a girl, a fag, etc. His mother was telling me this, in front of him, and even though he was uncomfortable, we carried on. I told her I found that behavior, the bullies', not her son's, to be reprehensible. And that we had discussed the behavior, and the tragic suicides that followed, in my class. I related about my own life, that I did overcome it, and later came out as gay. She did not flinch. She is a strong and compassionate mother, and said she wouldn't care if her son did come out, she would still love him. Lucky son, to have a supportive mother at his young age.
The second incident, ironically, the subsequent conference, had a similar but different scenario. The mother insisted on a moment alone with me, and dismissed her son. He reluctantly left, I suspect he knew what was coming. She then told me how some of my own students were targeting a student in another classroom and saying he's a 'gay boy.' This target was a friend of my student whose mother was telling me this. She concluded by saying she didn't care if her own son were gay, this intolerance has got to stop. I repeated the conversation from the first conference, telling her how I came out to my students the year before. She, too, didn't flinch at my revelation.
Well, the ground hasn't swallowed me, I am not fired, and as of Friday, children are still in my classroom. I doubt the parents in question would have run and told anyone else anyway, but parents do gossip. And they love to gossip about teachers.
I can only hope we don't see any more empty chairs due to bullying.