Meet the parents
"I was the token gay teacher - a couple of parents had already requested that their children were moved to another PE class"
Parents evening is one of the events on the school calendar that I dreaded. It's possibly the most awkward thing you could ever go through, Don't believe me? Imagine trying to tell a parent how badly behaved their child is while they try to convince you that it must be you, because there child is the epitome of good behavior. Even though you know that they were on the local park downing a litre bottle of vodka two nights before.
The school named our Year 7 parents evening “Are They Alright Night”. This specific parents evening was simply so year 7 parents could find out how there child was adjusting to school life and to find out predicted grades and such. The day of the parents evening, I had this awful sense of dread, having to meet over 40 parents, who I'm sure had been told by their little darlings that I was the token “gay” teacher. I knew that a couple of parents had already requested that their children were moved to another PE class, so that my “gayness” did not influence their children. So there was already an indication that tonight would not go as well as I'd hoped.
In total I had booked 30 parents into various time slots to see me at my small table in the school atrium ( the posh name for dinner hall). As I sat at said desk with my name on a little placard the doors opened and in filtered the students and the parents. And that's where my night pretty much started and ended. 50% of my list didn't even come near my table, another 20% came past my table with either pitying looks or shaking their head at me (like I was some museum piece),. The 30% that did make it to my table either told me they were praying for me or where really not interested in what I had to say anyway.
Just as I was packing away my various folders of levels and marking away a parent approached my table and asked to speak to me. As I sat back in my seat I didn't even recognise the child she was with, mainly because I didn't teach boys PE. However, as she sat before me she whispered in the lowest voice possible, “Thank you”. At first I has no idea what she was thanking me for. I had only maybe spoken to her child once and as far as I could remember I has never seen this woman before in my life. But as she continued to talk I realised she was thanking me for coming out. She explained that her older daughter, who I vaguely knew from the schools 6th form, had recently come out to her and that she was so ashamed of herself that she had started to self harm. She continued to tell me how I was the first person she had really had contact with who was also gay and that was helping her daughter cope with learning to accept herself.
After this very revealing declaration, she stood and hugged me while continuing to thank me. Once she had walked away I felt I had a obligation to help this girl realise that just because she was gay, didn't mean she had to give up her faith nor did it mean that she was any different from her peers. It also showed me that maybe some of the parents were willing to accept that the school did have some sort of LGBT community, and that instead of belittling and trying to silence the students (and possibly, the other staff), they should support and encourage the LGBT individuals to become more involved in the wider school and local community.
This revelation had started with one parent. If that parent could accept her daughter, it must mean there are other parents willing to accept their children's sexuality. And if this happened,we could start a revolution whereby religion and sexuality worked side by side to help the Catholic church to realise that everyone is equal and that sexuality is only a small part of the whole person that you are.
Only 35 weeks left to go!
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