Why, after nine years of teaching, I've finally come out to my students.

#lgbted

I’ve done it. After nine years of teaching, I finally came out to my students. It shouldn’t be a big deal in this day and age but, unfortunately, it still is.

When I was a pupil myself I had a horrible time. I was subjected to the most horrendous bullying on an almost-daily basis. This was before I even knew I was gay – they all seemed to know something I didn’t, and delighted in making my life hell. I was told that, “it’s just something we have to put up with”.

I decided to become a teacher to right a few wrongs, to give young people the opportunities I didn’t have; to make them feel safe, respected and secure.

It took a long time, however, to be fully honest about who I am – partly because I was warned categorically in my training year never to come out.

When a new head teacher arrived at my current school, I decided to broach the idea of commemorating LGBT History Month. He was all for it.

I wanted to increase visibility of LGBT+ people and issues in our school and “normalise” it. As part of a range of events, I thought it would be a good idea to come out to pupils in an assembly. It’s something I have wanted to do for some time — the final frontier, perhaps. I hoped it would build an open and positive relationship with students. If we are going to increase visibility and acceptance of the LGBT+ community, then we must start with ourselves as role models.

I thought about how it would have helped me to have an LGBT+ figure to look up to and decided to go for it. I said: “As a gay man, I know how important it is to have positive role models.” No drama, no jazz hands. Done.

At first, most people didn’t react at all. Some shrugged, others smiled. I had felt nervous, anxious and sweaty beforehand, but so relieved afterwards. A few minutes later, one student, who I have never taught, came up to me and said, “Sir, your assembly just changed my life.” Then they walked away, not wanting to cause a scene.

That’s why I did it, right there. I know now I’ve probably made a difference to at least one life for ever and we can’t put a price on that. No amount of backlash – which so far has been minimal – can take that way.

Having taken nine years to pluck up the courage, I understand why most LGBT teachers don’t come out. But I would encourage all of them to do it for the sake of all those young people who need us. Maybe then it’ll stop being a big deal and will no longer make the news. It’ll finally just be accepted as part of life.

Now, with some colleagues, I'm setting up #lgbted. Let's be the role models we needed. 

Author Profile

Daniel Gray

Daniel Gray

That gay teacher, campaigner and speaker. Sometimes a singer. Co-founder of #LGBTed.

1 story

Comments

Lisa Hannay Lisa Hannay @lisahan 1 month ago
Thanks for your courage! I have been coming out to staff and students for a few years now but still have some reluctance to really, really be "out". For example I am currently on holidays and travel alone. People ask me where my husband is and I tell them that I don't have one (true) but I don't tell them I don't have a wife either. I struggle I guess deciding if it is my job to rattle a complete stranger's world or perception. Some would say it is.
1
Hannah Wilson Hannah Wilson @misswilsey 1 month ago
@lisahan I told Daniel you needed to meet! You beat me to it. Daniel - Lisa is the Canadian I met at #womened who I mentioned! This is an inspiring blog!
1
Flora RH Richards Flora RH Richards @cupacoco 1 month ago
Wow, Daniel, thank you very, very much for sharing your experience and rational. I am keen to work in this st my school as you'll see from my last blog https://staffrm.io/@cupacoco/BolJdtQuyx We will definitely be in touch to see how we can support lgbted.
1
Daniel Gray Daniel Gray @thatgayteacher 1 month ago
Thanks Flora - if you follow me on twitter @thatgayteacher you'll see what we're doing to set up LGBTed and maybe you can help in some way?
Caroline Mortlock Caroline Mortlock @sisyphus 4 weeks ago
Let me know what I can do - am 100% behind this, absolutely delighted with this initiative. Daily, I am seeing students' lives transformed as a result of being in a school where it is safe to come out,
1
Daniel Gray Daniel Gray @thatgayteacher 4 weeks ago
Hi Caroline, thanks! Are you on Twitter? If so, give me a follow for all the latest #LGBTed info - will be good to have you on board! @thatgayteacher
{{ modalTitle }} {{{ modalData }}} {{ modalTitle }} {{{ modalData }}} Join the conversation
Sign in or sign up to post comments, follow colleagues, recommend stories and build your own professional profile.
Staffrm is the professional network for educators passionate about their work.
Please Sign In {{ modalData }} Sign In