Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Gay teachers less likely to challenge homophobia?

Despite the ever-present challenges lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students face at school, a new study finds that gay teachers are actually less likely to challenge bullying in the classroom than their straight counterparts out of fear for their own jobs.

As TES Magazine reports, the study comprised interviews with more than 350 teachers and school principals over how they deal with anti-gay incidents at school. The bulk of the interviewees who identified as LGBT said that not only did they not feel safe coming out at school, but they had rarely intervened when they witnessed homophobic remarks being made.

Over one-third of the teachers interviewed for the survey said they were worried their jobs would be at risk if they came out to their colleagues, while 62 percent were worried about losing their jobs if they came out to their students, according to the report.

As a gay teacher myself, I understand how other LGBT teachers might feel. Whereas, some teachers might not stand up to homophobic incidents, I do not allow any bullying or any disparaging remarks in my presence.  I attempt to teach my students the golden rule.  Though I might fear that it might out me to my students or that my students might perceive me as gay because of it, I don't worry too much.  Parents and students alike know that I am the one liberal teacher at the school, and so they think it is just one of my liberal diatribes when I challenge bullying in the classroom. I also tend to give them a mini sermon on the golden rule in the process.

That being said, it does not mean that my job would not be in jeopardy if my sexuality did come out.  I have allies on the school board, so I might not lose my job, but it is also quite likely that I would.  We can hope that one day, the sexuality of teachers will not be an issue.  Currently, it is a very real threat.  News of the TES Magazine report follows the case of Carla Hale, a longtime teacher at Ohio's Bishop Watterson High School who was reportedly fired after her partner's name, Julie, was listed among the survivors in a public obituary for Hale's mother.  In February, Purcell Marian High School Assistant Principal Mike Moroski was fired by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati after endorsing gay marriage in a personal blog post, while in 2012, music teacher Al Fischer was dismissed from his job at St. Ann Catholic School in north St. Louis County, Mo., after archdiocese officials learned he was planning on marrying his longtime partner.


Jay M. said...

And somehow I don't think the pope's words will change any of that. The Catholic church in particular has a terrible track record in its treatment of gays, so it's not surprising that something as dumb as orientation, which wasn't an issue at school anyway (nor discussed nor otherwise acknowledged) got them fired. The last place I'd want to teach was a Catholic school. It's bad enough in Virginia where you can be fired for pretty much any reason (and sexual orientation would be a good one in this area), but add in the prejudice of many so-called "Christian" organizations, and forget it. (Not all by any stretch, but based on the news, it's a majority of them.)

Peace <3

David Jeffreys said...

Joe, how often do you have to invoke the golden rule in your classroom, because of homophobic student comments? Didn't you say in this blog that you found your (?previous) principal a problem in this regard?

JoeBlow said...

When I first started, it was fairly frequent, but in the three years that I have been teaching there, they no my attitude about these matters. Students know that there is a zero tolerance for bullying and derogatory language in my presence. Also, our new principal is the polar opposite of our old one. Bullying is no longer responded to with a slap on the wrist but is an expulsion offense. I once heard him tell a staff member who made a homophobic comment that she needed to get with the times and change her attitude. He is much more supportive, as are most of the faculty, of students are are perceived to be LGBT (we don't have any out students).