Sunday, July 1, 2007

"one teacher in 10"

It takes a book like “one teacher in 10” to reanimate my book report writing brain cells, but the necessity of its message is truly remarkable. A great deal of what we choose to do in life is dependent on our level of anxiety. Sometimes we are able to overcome this anxiety if a certain feeling of righteousness or need prevails, if the “must” overwhelms the “can’t”. In the case of whether or not to reveal one’s sexual orientation, anxiety often runs the life of those who have borne witness to crimes and prejudice against their lesbian, gar, bisexual and transgender peers. If revealing your sexual orientation opens up the possibility to being tied to a fence and left to die, then many reactions may surface. One, we choose to continue hiding for fear. Two, we choose to continue hiding for convenience, perhaps to mask fear, saying, “I don’t need to. It would just complicate things.” Three, we become outraged and come out as a statement.
Sometimes another choice rises, which is to not place yourself in a situation where the subject is broached. However, the fact of being queer is so central to identity that only a handful of occupations arise that do not involve revelations of orientation. Being a hermit, for example, would allow one to make the question quite moot.
In the case of a future LGBT educator, however, the choice to become a teacher often involves the decision of how to deal with their sexual orientation. In some cases, in some regions, the choice of coming out to the principal and staff is a difficult one to make, let alone coming out to students and parents. In some cases, it seems impossible and even dangerous. Some teachers wait until they get tenure. Some never out themselves.
The fact that some potential teachers refuse to become educators because they fear coming out or being “discovered” is only one of the problems of living in a society where social norms overwhelm basic rights. However, when coupled with the dearth of qualified professionals to teach our children, especially in math and science, this source of anxiety is detrimental to an entire nation of youth for more varied and complex reasons than most think.
The book “one teacher in 10” sheds light on the LGBT struggle in the school system, whether in coming out or going further in order for a teacher to create a LGBT club at their school. The essays are written by teachers at every level of administration and in every subject. It speaks of their passion and dedication, providing an enlightening example to any educator that needs support. It’s a necessary book for teachers, parents, gay and straight. It’s a book that will help to make our educational system more just and complete.
There are simpler things to do in life than to educate the youth of today, though nothing as satisfying. Any teacher reading this collection of essays will find the strength and support to make their school safer and more understanding of the equality of all people.

No comments: