Should Gay Teachers Come Out To Their Class?

With all of the gay blog coverage that stories like Tennessee’s incredibly homophobic Don’t Say Gay Bill receives, it can be easy to forget that in many parts of the country gay teachers are out and proud in their schools. More often than not, in the places you least expect.

CNN recently sat down with a few gay teachers to discuss their experiences as gay educators. The clip below is brief, but very insightful.

Coming out of the closet at work is difficult, but when your job involves children, being openly gay can be even tougher. Steve Perry talks with Tom Greene (Chapel Hill High School), Robert McGarry (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) & Danielle Riley (Jordan High School)

It’s likely that for many students, a gay teacher could provide them with their very first interaction with a gay adult – or at least the first conscious interaction.

Do you think gay teachers have a responsibility to come out to their students? Do you agree with Tom Greene’s assertion that discussing his partner with the class isn’t about his sexuality, but rather his life? Is it OK for a gay teacher to come out to any grade, or are some children too young?

Tell us what you’re thinking. We’re digging this story!

  • ofcourse they should.

  • Anonymous

    Do I sit there and say well I am gay so only a gay teacher can teach my kids?

    No! I am sure most of my teachers were straight growing up.

    Did that make me straight? hahhaha , ya sure uh-huh straight as an un-cooked pasta noodle 😉

    It does not affect the students in a bad way, in fact it may help some gay students, it may also help students

    be more open minded with each other and those that are different. I think for students to be able to see “normal”

    gay and lesbian teacher, may help them to think of gay people as something besides what Jerry Springer

    shows. Can I get my Jerry beads?

    Also hiding being a gay teacher, indicates there may be something wrong

    with it. Is that really a healthy message?

    I wish growing up I had a gay teacher. Just to feel normal, not like some freak for being gay. Growing up

    they would talk about when a man marries a woman, and this is their husbands. Can you imagine if a gay

    teacher took it to that level and said this is my partner/husband ?

  • Trenton Flock

    He’s absolutely correct that being open about his life has nothing to do with his sexuality. If no one complains because a female teacher mentions that she has children or a husband (even though that implies that (GASP!) she has had sex) but a female teacher can’t talk about her female partner because it implies that (GASP!) she has GAY SEX, then the problem is that the conservative audience is more obsessed with gay sex than we are and spends too much imagining gay sex at every mention of a same-sex relationship.

    But we already knew that… Filthy pack of perverts.

  • Anonymous

    if a student asked a teacher about his/her family, there would be no problem if the teacher was a heterosexual. If an lgbt teacher has a partner, and especially children, that person shouldn’t have to feel that they are under different standards than heterosexual teachers. It’s not all about sex you know.

  • Darek M

    I dont think they have a responsibility to come out, but if they feel safe, and comfortable sharing that with their students I feel they should be able to do that. Its not a responsibility for a straight teacher to say they are straight. It almost feels like if we had to, it would be like a warning, that just is not right.

  • L. Burke Ivey

    It’s a personal choice. Unless the topic of marital / sexual / romantic relationships comes up in class, I’d think there’s no reason for any teacher to discuss their relationships, regardless of their sexuality.

    However, I don’t see any problem with a homosexual teacher being honest and up-front in discussing their relationships, nor do I see any problem with a homosexual teacher discussing relationships with children of any age.

    Love is love. Talking about who you love and why doesn’t necessarily have to involve a sexual discussion, and with kids younger than junior high age, it shouldn’t – whether you’re straight, gay, or anywhere in between.

    I don’t know if gay teachers still need to fear being unemployed if they’re “out” at school, but hopefully, if a teacher loses their job this way, the students will recognize how unfair that is – which will impress on them the importance of tolerance – and the teacher will be able to find a more appreciative workplace.

  • The sexuality of a teacher doesn’t matter in the slightest. Their teaching ability should be the only thing they are judged on. Most heterosexual teachers flaunt their sexuality openly (“My kids did this…” “My husband says this…” etc.), so I don’t see an issue with homosexual teachers doing the same. Could a racist tell a school they don’t want a black/asian/white teacher teaching their child? No. Why would it be different for someone who likes the same sex? It isn’t, so it shouldn’t be an issue. People need to get over themselves as well as open their eyes and minds.

  • Mr. Anderson is the only out teacher in my kids’ elementary school. When kids make “that’s so gay!” comments, he stops them and asks what they mean. Are they implying that being gay is bad? The kids usually nod. He tells them that HE is gay–do they think that makes HIM bad? The shocked kids then shake their heads, for Mr. Anderson is beloved throughout the school. The teasing stops, and an important lesson is learned!

  • Jennifer Swift

    Gay teachers should be allowed exactly the same rights as straight teachers, but it’s all complicated because the school system and parents are so hush hush about homosexuality. If a strait teacher can have a picture of her or his family displayed on their desk, the same allowance should be provided for a gay teacher- the problem there lies in the ignorance and fear in the system- if people weren’t so afraid of homosexuality kids might see it as just another aspect of society and there wouldn’t have to be strained explanations because someone wasn’t responsible enough to present an accurate worldview to their child.I would dare to idealize that one day soon, a child of even 5 or 6 wouldn’t think twice to see her teacher and her teacher’s same sex partner with their dogs or kids in a picture on their desk.

  • Jennifer Swift

    Gay teachers should be allowed exactly the same rights as straight teachers, but it’s all complicated because the school system and parents are so hush hush about homosexuality. If a strait teacher can have a picture of her or his family displayed on their desk, the same allowance should be provided for a gay teacher- the problem there lies in the ignorance and fear in the system- if people weren’t so afraid of homosexuality kids might see it as just another aspect of society and there wouldn’t have to be strained explanations because someone wasn’t responsible enough to present an accurate worldview to their child.I would dare to idealize that one day soon, a child of even 5 or 6 wouldn’t think twice to see her teacher and her teacher’s same sex partner with their dogs or kids in a picture on their desk.

  • Jennifer Swift

    I agree. Your sex and who you sex should no more define who you are than your skin color or your race.

  •  I think it’s up to the teacher. I don’t think the teacher should be forced to or not to divulge their preference or marital status. or marital status.

  •  I agree with Greene on that. A relationship no matter whether its between a man and a woman, two men, two women is based off of love not just sex. 

  • Guest

    “We have found that a lot of our schools across the country are hostile environments for LGBT people.” …. Surely you haven’t JUST figured this out.