The following was submitted by a NYSUT member who works in the Capital Region. D. Guy Thatcher is not his real name.
The gay teacher
By D. Guy Thatcher
A number of things have happened over the last few months that didn’t exactly surprise me nor anger me but motivated me to want to take action for myself and my fellow educators who fall under the LGBTQ umbrella.
- A secretary at our middle school informed me that another teacher was afraid to “out” herself among her students. The secretary suggested that the lesbian teacher was advised that she should keep her gender preference to herself.
- At a meeting of area GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) advisors sponsored by the Capital Pride Center, a teacher let the group know that she was afraid to start a GSA at her school.
- As my teachers’ association president kindly sent to our membership an invitation to our first ever LGBT Educators Appreciation Appreciation and Networking Reception, a few teachers in my unit responded to him suggesting that such an event is inappropriate and asked, “Why would our union support such a thing?”
“Breaking the Silence is no longer for the kids. In a profession where students look up to us as role models, teachers need to be who they are. Our kids need to see that the LGBTQ community can be successful and does not need to cower away in shame!
My name is D. Guy Thatcher and I am a gay high school teacher in an Albany suburb. I’m our GSA advisor and a public education advocate. I come from Generation X, the excellent generation, also sometimes referred to as the “who knows” generation. We are a people who embrace change, being the most educated and most diverse as compared to previous generations. I originally come from the New York City suburbs, but have lived in western New York and now in the Capital Region. I’m known for being perceptive, confident and outspoken. These qualities often put teachers like me in awkward predicaments (meant for another blog entirely).
I want to use this forum to share my experience that, in my naive little world, had been rather positive. I also want to respond to people who may have fear, have questions or have stories about being an educator who identifies as LGBTQ. This blog will not serve as a means of debating gender and sexual orientation. I’m over that. I know who I am and why I was put here.
A local gay radio host refers to me as a hero. I go to work every day. I do a GREAT job. My students, parents and colleagues love me.
And, oh yeah… I’m gay.
I tell my students that I’m gay on day one. I know they’re curious, for whatever reason. But I tell them that it is important for them to get to know me as much as it is that I get to know them. In my classroom, we foster a culture of respect. My gay-ness is not a rumor. It is a fact. Now that’s out of the way, lets learn while we’re here in school.
I had to ask the radio host why he would call me a hero. He explained to me that what might be so simple for me – to be myself and be a teacher – is something he had always wanted to do when he was a teacher. He never felt that he could. That’s why I’m writing this blog.