Seven gay teachers who got the last laugh and inspired their kids to think differently
Teachers arguably have a huge impact on the lives of their students, and some of them go further than others to make a difference.
Those who inspire acceptance in their classrooms, and those who don’t put up with intolerance where they see it make a particular difference.
Some teachers, through being open about their sexual orientation or gender identity make a huge difference to the lives of young people just by being themselves.
Here is a list of amazing LGBT teachers and allies who are doing it right, and whose students, even if they didn’t realise it at the time, owe a debt of thanks.
1. Coming out doesn’t just happen once…
An amazing letter from a student sums up why this lesbian teacher says she feels she has to come out to her students every day.
Emma Baldry, 31, says now that she is out as gay, she feels she has no choice but to be open about her sexuality.
This student’s letter proves exactly why…
The student wrote: “If it wasn’t for you I don’t think I would have ever ‘come out’ at Risedale. When I first started here I was really scared to ‘come out’ mainly because the words ‘gay’ and ‘dyke’ were used all the time as insults but also because at that time there wasn’t anyone else that I knew of that had ‘came out’. The I heard that you had come out and because you were a teacher it made being gay more normal and accepted.
“Then when you started doing LGBT assemblies and lessons it changed loads of students opinions and being out wasn’t so weird. It made it a lot easier for me to come out knowing that youw ere out. I always felt I had someone to talk to and go to. It was also really nice to have lessons that were based on gay relationships instead of it always being about heterosexual couples. Also hearing your stores about when you came out made me feel a lot better to know I wasn’t the only person in the world (which it sometimes feels like).”
2. Turning a negative into a positive
A drama teacher posted the fantastic response he sent a parent who pulled her kids out of his class because he is gay.
In a text message, the mother – who Michael has not named – wrote that she was pulling her kids out of the class, because “as a Christian” she cannot allow them to be “influenced” by “unconventional ideas”.
She even had the cheek to ask for her deposit back for the class.
The teacher gave a brilliant retort, responding: “I would be lying if I said I was disappointed to hear this. I pride my students on the respect and love they have for others and their passion for equality. You would only be infringing on our family.
“As far as I’m aware, my sexuality doesn’t affect my ability to teach, just like it wouldn’t affect a doctor’s ability to treat one of your children should they become unwell.
“I’m sure your children’s health would come first should they need emergency treatment, or would you need to check their doctor’s lifestyle prior to their life-saving operation?
“I wish you luck in finding an appropriate stage school that meets your needs, however from experience I find that theatre without gays is like cooking without spices.”
He added: “I hear StageCoach are enrolling but their teachers have been known to wear mixed fabrics which I’m sure you are aware is forbidden in the Bible (Leviticus 19:19).
“Please feel free to come see our musical ‘Happy Days’, confetti will be used in the finale but please rest assured this is not an attempt to corrupt your Christian lifestyle. We just love glitter
“Unfortunately deposits are non refundable but don’t worry, your deposit has been donated to Stonewall, an LGBT charity.
3. Standing up for what they believe in
Sadly sometimes teachers have to take the hit and resign rather than compromise on what they believe in.
This teacher found out the hard way, when he was asked to step down from his small-town teaching gig in Kansas.
Why? Because he played an anti-bullying video in his middle-school class.
Tom Leahy, who taught social studies at Conway Springs Middle School was shockingly told to step down after playing the ‘Love is all you Need’ viral video.
At the time he said of the predominantly Catholic town: “I knew something was going to happen. I just didn’t know this would happen.”
He was placed on leave and then told not to come back, despite teaching at the school since 1997.
4. Better late than never
In a huge move, this Catholic school vice principal, after decades of advocating for LGBT students, came out as gay herself, just before she retired.
Joan Grundy spent decades advocating for LGBT students at St Mary’s High School in Kitchener, Ontario, said she feared coming out openly while working at the school, as that would leave her open to “hateful projections of people who deem being gay an abomination”.
But she took the plunge and came out, saying she was glad to be able to be true to herself.
she says: “I’m proud to have represented my board. I’m proud to have represented LGBTQ students. Now it’s time to represent myself more honestly.”
5. Teaching beyond the classroom
This teacher showed that it is not only students in the classroom who can be at the receiving end of a good lesson.
Suzy, an English teacher from Somerset, shared a picture of a UKIP leaflet from Frome councillors Derek Tanswell and Sharon Snook, regarding car parking charges in the town.
The teacher went over the leaflet in red pen – pointing out basic spelling and grammar errors, unintelligible sentences and typos.
6. The moments that make it all worthwhile
A 9-year-old girl has written a heartfelt letter to her teacher, after he revealed he was gay during a lesson on homophobic bullying.
The beautiful letter, which surely makes the fear of coming out completely worthwhile, reads: “Dear Mr R
“Even though you’re gay, I will always treat you the same way as I do now. I still think about you the same way as I used to. You’re a great teacher and these are just some of the word’s (sic) that I would describe you as: great, amazing, fantastic, brilliant, awesome and brave.
“The reason why I say brave is because you shared a personal secret which was very brave.
“You don’t have to feel scared because I know that everyone in the class feels the same way as I do.
“From A x x
PS. We are all proud of you”
7. Clowning around
This teacher really did get brilliant revenge on a student who said gay couples marrying “scared” them.
As well as saying gays shouldn’t be allowed to marry, the student said: “I’m glad gays can’t marry here. They scare me, kinda like clowns.”
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The teacher took the opportunity to get revenge on the student, and turned up to school like this:
The story was shared on Reddit, by user circaxashes, much to the delight of followers of the thread.
While these stories are fun, LGBT teachers around the world still face persecution, and many fear coming out at work in case of a backlash.