Equity & Diversity

LGBT Teachers Find Greater Acceptance, But Work Remains, Advocate Says

By Ross Brenneman — September 12, 2015 1 min read
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Here’s a good interview: Kevin Jennings, founder of the Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network, or GLSEN, talked with my colleague Luke Towler at Education Week Commentary about how LGBT teachers are finding much more acceptance in the K-12 community than they had just two decades ago.

Jennings, a former assistant U.S. deputy secretary of education, as well as the first-ever faculty adviser to a high school gay-straight alliance, has published three volumes of essays by LGBT educators since 1994. His newest iteration of the series, One Teacher in Ten, came out in August.

In the interview, Jennings spoke to the worry many educators still have about their sexual identities:

People go into teaching because they want to make a difference, because they want to help kids. And some teachers are really concerned that their relationships with kids will be damaged, or that there will be witch hunts by parents, or that they'll be thrown under the bus by unsupportive administrators. And the saddest stories in the book really are ones where administrators usually do throw the LGBT teachers under the bus."

Jennings noted, though, how “it’s incredible to think how far we’ve come in terms of the fact that LGBT teachers, like their straight colleagues, increasingly feel they can just be open and honest about who they are.”

As great as that is, clearly there is room for progress, as another colleague, Evie Blad, has reported. Transgender students especially still face hurdles in finding acceptance.

Here’s the full audio of the Jennings interview; it’s about 15 minutes, and worth the time.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.