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"We read to know we are not alone." C. S. Lewis
I'm off to work with some teenagers this evening. I am really looking forward to supporting them in anyway I can. I miss working with young minds. The best part of this experience is that I'm going into it as me, not some part of me, but as a whole human being. When teaching before, I was required to leave part of me behind closed doors, away from prying eyes. Tonight, I get to look at LGBTQ young people and say, "Yes, yes I am." I can hold up a picture of my son's wedding and say, "I have a 25 year relationship with my wife and we raised a son together. This is my family."
I could never do that in public schools. I could never say this is the person I love; this is my happy life outside of these walls. No wonder our youth think there is something to be ashamed of. Their very obviously gay teacher isn't proudly displaying pictures of his child, because it's his partner's natural son. How would he explain his love for this young man, that he is his son too? That lesbian drama teacher calls her wife a “friend” and never introduces her to the class. They hide the truth. It must be shameful. There are no pictures of smiling vacations and happy family portraits to prove it gets better. Only the straight teachers have happy lives. After all, they have the photographic evidence displayed for all to see, right?
So, tonight I can be a real role model, a whole role model, not just the parts that others deem “mainstream.” Look around world. The LGBTQ family is out there and it is a distinction no different than the color of ones eyes. You work and live around people with blue eyes, brown, green, gray, the shades are endless and as unique as the individual possessing them. I look forward to the day that sexuality bears no more meaning in a description than a passing reference to eye color. I also look forward to the day when children aren’t taught to be afraid of the evil gay people. Hate and shame are both learned. I have the utmost hope that the next generation will teach less of it.
In addition to fiction, they have expressed an interest in learning LGBTQ history, which I find refreshing. These are our future leaders. Let us help them discover the roots to the tree of equality that they will continue to nourish. I hope for the day when a center like this is not the only place a child hears, “You are beautiful just the way you are.” Some kids never hear that. That has to change. Be the change you want to see.