Coming out to class
What's it like when everyone at the school you teach at finds out you're a lesbian?
Imagine the scene. It's a new school year, thousands of children are descending on their new schools and you're one of the (sort of) eager staff members waiting for your new year 7 class. The night before you have ironed your new uniform, (reluctantly) found the one long-sleeve t-shirt you own from the back and beyond of your wardrobe to cover your tattoos, your once rainbow coloured ear piercing has been replaced by a see-thorough alternative and your hair has been straightened within an inch of its life.
Six weeks have gone past quicker than you binged watched all six seasons of The L Word*. Suddenly there's 23 pairs of eyes staring at you. At this point there are definitely three questions that will be asked. 1) “Do you have a boyfriend, Miss?” 2) “Miss, are all PE teachers gay?” and the most important one: “Miss, are you gay?”
Now there are a couple of ways you can answer this:
You completely ignore them and carry on with your rather boring… I mean exciting netball lesson.
You make up an imaginary boyfriend called Jeff who's 24, works in a bank, has a dog named Keith and lives as far away from Liverpool as possible.
You give them the stern warning of how your private life has nothing to do with school and that even if you were gay, we are all the same.
You tell them you are gay and you have a very lovely girlfriend and carry on like nothing's happened.
Of course I naively went for the last option. Which now means all 989 students in the school knew within 1.5 seconds of me telling the class. This then led to every member of staff, including the school bus driver, knowing within a couple of hours. Now I’m not ashamed of being gay - quite the opposite. I'm loud and proud and have many a Pride badge on my backpack. However, being a teacher in a majority Catholic school, a type of school where you need a letter off your own priest just to get in and only 5% of the school population is non-Catholic, I soon realised that actually I had definitely picked the wrong option. Why? Because it turns out I'm the only LGBT member of staff in the whole school. Out of 120 staff members, little old me is the only one.
And there's now over 1000 people who I've come out to in less than a 24 hour period. Partly by choice but also because 11-year-old girls really love gossip. This is going to be one long school year. Only 37 weeks left to go.
*Me and my girlfriend binged watched the entire thing in five days!!!
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