Archive for March, 2012

I was like Nike…

I am currently enrolled in a Multicultural course for my program.  It has been quite uncomfortable for me at times because I am the only person of color in the class.  As far as I know, I am the only LGBTQ person as well. So topics make me cringe, and I often get frustrated or discouraged by the closed-minded mentalities of my peers.  But last night, something phenomenal happened.

For a few days prior to last night, I contemplated about teaching a chapter in front of the class.  If I do this, then it counts as one of my papers.  I could also give a great perspective about what I am researching and challenge my peers to do something.  Of course the chapter was on LGBTQ issues involving erasure and lack of policies, curriculum, etc.  So it was right up my alley!  But, it put me in a vulnerable state.  I would have to come out again, and share my story again, and it is harder with people that you see often and respect as colleagues.  I would rather present in a room full of strangers than present to a few people I have constant contact with.  So after deliberation, the night before class, I decided to email my professor and ask if I could present.  Surprisingly, she agreed!  I was ecstatic but very nervous!  Ana helped me prepare my notes and activity, and I was ready.

In class, I was very nervous, and my professor noticed and supported me along with my vulnerability.  So I taught.  I presented a Prezi that answered the common questions heteros want to know but are afraid to ask.  I used questions such as, “why?” “What did your parents say?” “What have you lost because you came out?”  etc.  As I presented, we giggled at my humor, and asked questions along the way as well.  I then led a discussion in regards to the chapter and shared the idea of “1 teacher in 10.” Kevin Jennings wrote a book titled 1 Teacher in 10 (see link below) that shared stories of LGBTQ educators. I emphasized the point that I have not seen it any other way.  There have been 1 in 10 experiences for me on a daily basis, and sometimes, I am that one, but it is still there.  And if this is the case, teacher educators need to wake up!  They need to adjust their curriculum and implement information to support and teach these gay pre-service teachers.  More importantly, all teachers were once students, which means there are just as many gay youth as there are gay teachers!!! So, we have to teach acceptance, social justice, and provide strategies to ensure equality within school settings.

After making my points clear and encouraging healthy, respectful, inquisitive dialogue, we did an activity titled “Put myself in your shoes.” This activity helped my peers see what it was like for LGBTQ people as they come out.  They experience losses.  Some more than others.  They were put in the position where one student actually shed a tear in the thought of losing her family.  Another student “lost everything” and was still quietly grieving after the activity was over.  He told me, this is so real.  I don’t know how I could handle losing all of this.

My presentation lasted an hour and 40 min.  It went over by 40 min., but she was okay with that.  As I was putting my materials away, my professor said to me, “We will leave here in May after all of this talk, and then what?  We need to put some of this into action.  I think I need to change what I was going to do after the students come back from break.  We should try to get safe zone taught to our undergraduate students as part of their diversity courses.  Where they become an ally or not, I agree with what people have said tonight.  We have to protect these kids.”

That being said, she altered her planned lesson.  She sat down with us and presented an opportunity for us as educators to do something.  She offered the idea of it taking place of an assignment if we wanted to help implement change within our school.  She let the class out early (which never happens) and those that wanted to stay stayed after and discussed what we can do.

There were about 10 of us.  We spoke briefly and came up with a starting plan to begin to present this information to our department.  We have become this LGBTQ ally task force, for lack of better words.  We are actually going to begin to do something about it!

So, I have said all of that to say this-If you have a passion about something, if you feel like there is a feeling that stirs you up inside to the point where you feel strong enough to do something about it, do it.  I was scared.  I didn’t know who really would support me or what could happen because of my name continuously becoming more known on campus.  I put myself in risk more everyday for violence or lack of opportunity for my career in the future because of my “radicalism” (if I even deserve that).  But, I did it.  I took that extra little step that was feasible (with background knowledge and preparedness-don’t be ignorant when moving forward), and it created a small movement.  I am so overwhelmed with the thought that because I was brave, because I took a chance, our department is going to change.  It won’t change overnight, and I may be gone when things begin to fall in place, but the knowledge and ideas will be stirring in their heads.  I did that.  I did that, and the allies that believe in radical change are taking the next steps to continue to make something happen.  I never believed in Nike’s slogan more than now…

 

It’s okay to be gay,

Bre

http://www.amazon.com/One-Teacher-10-Second-Edition/dp/1555838693/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1332512816&sr=8-1