Falling in love with someone for the first time can be a scary and exciting experience. It can also sometimes lead to a reevaluation of plans, goals, and personal values.


LevesqueWhen I first fell in love I was a 20 year old college student working towards becoming an elementary school teacher. I wanted to teach young students in a small rural school setting, one day get married and then have children of my own. Many people expected me to change these plans once I fell in love - all for one reason - I fell in love with another woman. I guess I have always been stubborn, but in my mind I did not see why I couldn’t still have all of the things I hoped for. Why should it make a difference who I loved? Would I be a less effective teacher simply because I was gay?


Throughout the rest of college I noticed that though there where LGBT students on campus, there were not any within my education classes. There did not seem to be open discrimination, it justsimply wasn’t discussed. One semester I was asked to write a paper about a topic affecting teachers today. After much discussion and convincing I was allowed to write about gay teachers and the challenges they face in our society. I will never forget standing in front of the class to present my topic and seeing all of the faces of my peers change when I said the word “gay”. That paper taught me a lot about the challenges faced by gay teachers and weakened my resolve a bit about how open I could be in the workplace. Still, I knew who I was and what I wanted, I was determined that I would one day be a teacher and openly gay.


First Year Jitters


Then came my first teaching job in a small, rural southwest Missouri school district. The graduating class was around 50 students and preschool through twelfth grade was all housed in the same building. Everyone in this town knew each other, most grew up and went to school together even, and almost everyone was religious. Knowing that I was at the bottom of the totem pole I decided to not tell anyone about my wife until they got to know me as a person first. I thought maybe if everyone liked me and saw that I was an effective teacher that it might soften the reaction when I did come out. I expected that there would still be those who would not like me simply because I was gay but I hoped that most would be able to see me as a whole person and not just a lesbian.


Well things did not go as planned in this aspect. My fellow preschool teacher found out through Facebook that I was married to a woman and came to speak with me right away. Though she was accepting of me, and even met my wife in person, she warned me that I should probably keep it under wraps. She told me about certain teachers that she knew would cause problems if they found out, and even warned me that the principal had expressed a negative mindset towards gays in the past. After this encounter I decided to not tell anyone else at the school about myself for fear that I would have my contract non-renewed or would experience an adverse working environment. I instead resorted to using gender neutral pronouns and vagueness when discussing my home life.


Coming Into My Own


After two years I found myself looking for another job and vowed that I would not get into the same situation again where I had to hide my personal life. My wife and I were getting ready to try for a baby and I did not want to set an example for my child of being ashamed and scared of others opinions. Upon getting hired and meeting my coworkers for the first time I immediately told them about my wife. Though I received a few startled looks I have yet to have anyone openly discriminate or shun me for being gay. I am sure that I will have to deal with some sticky situations, and people, at some point in my teaching career at this new school but I feel more comfortable now knowing that I have been open and honest from the beginning.


When you present yourself in a confident way, I feel that people are less likely to show bias. Hiding your sexuality and acting as if you are ashamed of who you are gives people an opening to try and wound you. It then becomes a hide and seek game where all of your energy is focused on keeping a secret and not letting others in, you forget to be a whole person. By putting it all out there from the beginning you are showing people that you are comfortable with who you are and that your sexuality is only a small part of who you are as a person. Yes, I am a lesbian; I am also an amazing teacher. Just because it’s not a popular combination doesn’t mean it’s a bad one.


Kacee Levesque is an Early Childhood Special Education teacher in southwest Missouri. She has been married to her wife for three years and is pursuing a master’s degree in Human Services.

 

 

 

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