I have recently started preparing for my masters project, which I am intending to start next year. I am currently doing a literature review around my researchable problem.
I first became interested in the identity issues around gay and lesbian teachers in 2013. I was in my final year of university. At the time, Bernard Gaynor stated that parents should have a right to ensure their children are not taught by gay teachers. I wrote an article at the time that went quite viral, and was published in MX Newspaper.
I became more interested in this researchable problem when I gained a teaching job in a Christian school. I noticed that I needed to be closeted, but teachers with other so-called ‘sins’ in their lives were allowed to freely flaunt them – such as living with their boyfriend or getting a divorce.
I lived in fear every day that someone would find out and I would lose my job, or be forced to work in a very hostile environment, all because of my relationship status.
I think the way that gay teachers are treated in the teaching profession is largely problematic.
People expect teachers to be the high watermark of morality. Married with children, no drinking, no swearing, no partying. No outward political opinions. After all, we are role models.
However, I am concerned with the fact that if a gay teacher is encouraged to be closeted, what message does this send to young gay and lesbian students? Or students who have gay parents? Or even heterosexual students?
It sends the message that who we are is shameful and wrong.
Therefore, my masters project is going to centre around exploring the lived experiences of lesbian teachers within the primary setting in Queensland. I am going to use ethnographical, semi-structured interviews to gain insight into whether lesbian teachers are out in their environments, how they form (or do not form) authentic relationships within their communities, and the reasoning behind their being out or closeted.
In my last year of high school, I was lucky enough to have an out, lesbian teacher. The administration of the school made it incredibly difficult for her, and they made it difficult for me too. The way I viewed that teacher changed the way I viewed myself. Here was a very normal, successful woman with a long term relationship, dogs, and a mortgage.
That was all I really wanted – was to be normal. To have a life like everyone else. A white picket fence, a wife, a child, higher education, and a job I enjoyed. I wanted a happy home. Through viewing this teacher as a role model, I came to understand that this would be possible for me.
This is why this research is absolutely essential and I can’t wait to continue sharing it with you all.