Saturday, May 14, 2005

Ms. Frazzled, Lesbian Extraordinaire

You may (or may not) have noticed my recent posting gap. This is due to the fact that something other than student teaching has taken over the neurotic, obsessive function of my brain for the past week or so, thus rendering me unable to focus the sort of bonafide-nut attention here that I normally would.

What could possibly be so important, you ask? What on Earth could possibly divert my tunnel vision?

Her name is Amy. And she's way more fun.

And why am I talking about her here, pray tell? Because being a dyke complicates things when you're going to be teaching elementary-aged students, perhaps a bit more than it complicates things in most other professions (save, perhaps, becoming a member of the clergy).

Traditionally, teaching is a rather conservative occupation. I understand that there are huge numbers of progressive, liberal, and queer-friendly teachers and administrators. In fact, I will daresay that there are more of them than there are staunch, inflexible conservative ones. At least, that seems to be the case in my particular area. But, as a whole, teaching is still a conservative profession. Teachers are expected to dress a certain way, behave a certain way, and to serve as role models for young people.

In today's political climate, I don't feel particularly safe disclosing this part of my personal life in a professional setting. In the "real world," I'm so out that it hurts (not me, mind you, but anyone who might be the least bit uncomfortable with it.) Ha. In my professional life, I have never lied, but I don't bring it up in conversation, and I certainly don't have "Ms. Frazzled, Lesbian Extraordinaire" printed on my business cards. Unfortunately, it's a risk.

Over the past several weeks, I have read about two separate instances in two different states of attempts being made to bar gays and lesbians (everybody leaves out the poor bisexuals, transgendered folk, and other queers when they're on their anti-fag crusades, I've noticed) from teaching in public schools. The thought of this is terrifying.

People tend to get a little bent out of shape when comparisons are made between the treatment of queers in today's society and the treatment of the Jews in much of just-pre-Holocaust Germany, but come on now. I'm not expecting to be carted off to the showers anytime soon, and I don't mean to imply that I am. What I do mean to imply, however, is that we are seeing systematic, government-sanctioned and indeed, government-initiated and -sponsored attempts to prevent gays and lesbians from participating in mainstream society. We are prevented from entering into certain legal contracts; our economic interests are being threatened by prejudice; our ideas and our lives are being censored (the recent events in Alabama libraries, anyone?) and touted as "obscenity," and we are forever being blamed and scapegoated for everything that's gone wrong in this country.

Breakdown of traditional marriage? Totally our fault, especially since we can't get married. The moral decay of children? Yep, that's us again. 9/11? Sorry about that. Our very presence tends to incur the wrath of God in the form of religious wackos flying aircraft without authorization. Global warming? Nah, it's not your gas-guzzling, Saudi dick-sucking SUV's, don't worry, and don't stop buying them. It's the goddamn fags and their super-carbondioxide-producing respiratory systems.

So you can see why I'm a tad apprehensive. The last thing I want is some angry asshole's repressed homosexuality to prevent me from using the degree I've busted my ass to earn. I don't want to have to be constantly on the defensive with parents; to be held to a different standard than my colleagues because they're just itching for a legitimate reason to fire me; to be presumed to be a morally bankrupt pedophile because when I go home, I eat dinner and watch crappy television with a beautiful woman instead of a man. It's insanity, and it's getting worse, not better. There's a huge backlash against all of the gains we've made in the past century, and I don't want to put myself in the line of fire any more than necessary.

How do I behave towards students and parents if they see me out with my girlfriend, holding hands? How do I respond to questions about my "husband" or my "boyfriend" (other than simply saying I don't have one)? How do I keep my integrity in a heterosexist, homo-fearful environment?

I feel like if I were going to be a highschool or college instructor, things would be different. I can remember having queer teachers in highschool and in college, and nobody made a big deal out of it. Sure, people snickered in the locker room and were utterly disgusting out of their earshot. I can handle that. But as far as I knew, there was never any real flak with parents or with the administration.

Maybe I'm going to find that my worries are completely ridiculous, and I hope that I do. But I fear for the worst, because I don't like the direction this country is heading. I don't feel safe with the headlines that are swirling around and the attempts that are being made to keep "my kind" away from the precious little children. It gives me creepy-crawlies up my spine. And it makes me absolutely furious.


At 11:25 AM, Blogger Smithee said...

Hi. Found your blog via a link on another blog, but I forget which one at the moment. I just finished my student teaching so I feel a kinship with a lot of your posts. Being straight, I can't completely understand how you feel about having to keep a part of yourself out of your professional life. But I do agree that it shouldn't be that way. I'm also hoping for the day when people are allowed to live their lives without interference from idiots who want to control us all and force us to be carbon copies of their ignorant, hate-mongering, intolerant, self-righteous selves. Why don't they get that there are actual problems in this world - hunger, terrorism, illiteracy, lack of healthcare, lack of education, disease, homelessness, abuse, etc. - and that what consenting adults do in the privacy of their own homes is no one else's business?! I'll never understand them, and I'm ashamed to say I live in a state that is full of them and wants to change the constitution to reflect their narrow-minded views.

Sorry for ranting. I just wanted you to know that you're not alone. Others in the blogosphere are on your side.

At 12:58 AM, Anonymous fred the fish said...

this is isn't the same, but I had thoughts earlier this year about what if I slipped and said I lived with my boyfriend? I referred to him as my partner, because somehow that sounded more grownup. I teach in a conservative area and wondered if parents would be upset about my living in sin.
But that's not the same, is it? I'm frustrated for you, for you not feeling like you can be all who you are in the school where you teach. There are lots of teachers at my school who are out, and a couple who are out with faculty, but not with students (reasons vary).
You should be able to be who you are, all of who you are, not just the bits that people agree with politically. We are on a slippery slope in this country, finger pointing and scapegoating for our national woes (real and imagined).
I hope that you find an administration and district with which you feel safe enough to be you.

At 1:09 PM, Blogger Melissa said...

Hello! I am really enjoying reading your blog. I think it is because your thoughts about teaching (especially the recent post about discipline) are similar to my own.

As for your most recent post about your personal life, just remember that people are foolish. Basically, they want robots to teach their impressionable children. These people do not understand that school is not just about learning facts about "stuff." A very large part of school is learning how to function with other people. This might include having a teacher you despise, one of a different race or sexuality. This is the real world.

If it is any consolation I have a friend who is Indian and she had the traditional nose piercing. It is small and tasteful, but still noticeable. She has been chastised again and again for this part of her culture. The administration claims that it is a distraction and disrupts student learning. I say that maybe if they left my friend alone she would be a better teacher without having to worry about what other people think of her.

Anyway, ::rant off::. Keep in touch.

At 7:15 PM, Blogger Melissa said...

PS - I just realized that we will both be student teaching at the same time. Rock on!


At 4:20 PM, Blogger Jen said...

For the record, I think it's ridiculous when conservatives say that allowing gays and lesbians to marry would destroy the "sanctity of marriage." Yeah, because we straight people haven't ALREADY done that with our skyrocketing, obscenely high divorce rate. From what I hear, gays and lesbians traditionally maintain relationships for much longer than straight people do. Hell, maybe us STRAIGHT people shouldn't be allowed to get married anymore.

At 3:05 PM, Blogger Anna said...

AMEN Ms.! Fuck them and fuck their narrow-minded views!

But on a less angry note, as Melissa said, school is for learning about life, not just material. One of my favorite teachers in high school was gay. Just knowing him, having him in my life and loving him helped me to be more open to all people, I think. Don't deny your students that world-opening experience by ever hiding the real, fabulous you.


Post a Comment

<< Home