“Above everything else that I teach my kids, what I want them to walk away with from my classroom is to be proud of who they are. To know that who they are is worthy and wonderful, without any changes. And I wasn’t living that in the classroom.” ~ Jessica Lifshitz
In schools all across the United States, all across the world, teachers are hiding.
Students ask if the teacher is married. The teacher says no.
Co-workers say they want to set the teacher up with someone. The teacher makes excuses. The teacher says they are really picky. The teacher says they are just getting out of a bad relationship. The co-workers eventually stop asking.
Students ask if the teacher is dating anyone. The teacher says no.
The invitation to the staff holiday party says, “Families welcome.” The teacher goes alone.
Students ask if the teacher has a roommate. The teacher says yes. A friend. Always a friend.
Despite worldwide civil rights gains for people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT), schools are still places where most LGBT teachers still feel they have to conceal this part of their identity.
A few years ago, 5th-grade teacher Jessica Lifshitz decided to stop hiding. She came out to her administrator, colleagues, students and their parents and has been teaching as a whole, undisguised person ever since. I learned about her story when I came across this blog post and asked if she would be a guest on my podcast. She agreed, and I’m so glad she did.
I’m proud to know Jessica and am grateful to the administrators, colleagues, students, and community who have contributed to making this story a positive one. To those of you who don’t work in that kind of school, my heart goes out to you. Maybe someday. ♥
Jessica’s website is Crawling Out of the Classroom.
To get connected with other educators who are committed to LGBT issues in education, follow the #LGBTeach hashtag on Twitter.