For as long as members of the queer community have been in the workplace (i.e. forever), they’ve had to worry about their sexual identity affecting their chosen careers or and their job stability. In every profession, queer workers feel they must conceal their sexual and/or gender identities to avoid discrimination in the workplace and — in many cases — to keep their jobs.
LGBTQ teachers feel this pressure especially; they are meant to become established members of the community, role models to the kids they teach and lifelines to the parents who trust them. With so much discrimination against the queer community, especially transgender individuals, queer teachers feel as though the only way to remain respected in their careers and their communities is to keep their identity a secret — not to mention that it is still legal to fire teachers (and queer people of any profession) based on sexual/gender identity in 29 states. The changing laws concerning LGBTQ discrimination means this number changes often, but as it stands, in 2016, there are places in the United States where teachers can be fired for being queer.
This is unacceptable. Until teachers everywhere can proudly claim their sexual/gender identities without fear of discrimination, retribution, or termination from their positions, we as a community must proudly claim our support for LGBTQ teachers. You can start now by using the hashtag #TeachwithPride.
#TeachwithPride is a way to track support for queer teachers across the U.S. It is a public gathering of people who believe that queer teachers deserve protection from discrimination based on sexual/gender identity, an outcry to our country’s leaders to legally protect queer teachers from workplace discrimination, and a place for discouraged teachers in the queer community to go to find support and love from those who believe LGBTQ teachers everywhere deserve to #TeachwithPride.
How You Can Advocate for LGBTQ Teachers in as Little as One Minute:
1 Minute Advocate: 32 of the 55 Republican senators in Congress voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a bill that would protect LGBT workers from workplace discrimination (no democrats voted against the bill). While you are welcome to tweet them all (full list provided here), I’ve provided the most high profile of the group below. Tweet one of the following senators that have a history of discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community and tell them you stand with queer educators using the hashtag #TeachwithPride. You can craft your own tweet or use the template below:
@_______ LGBTQ teachers should be protected by #ENDA. #TeachOurKidsTolerance by proving you believe the same. #TeachwithPride
@tedcruzHere are the highest-profile members of congress who don’t believe LGBTQ teachers should be protected from discrimination in the workplace: @tedcruz @RandPaul, @BobbyJindal, @LindseyGrahamSC, @ChuckGrassley, @ScottWalker
5 Minute Advocate: Take a photo of yourself with the hashtag #TeachwithPride and post to social media with a message of support. You are welcome to write a personalized message or use the template below.
Every person has the right to be protected against discrimination; every teacher has the right to feel respected in their own classrooms. This is why I support #ENDA and LGBTQ teachers in classrooms across the U.S. Workers have the right to safety in the workplace, and teachers have the right to #TeachwithPride.
10+ Minute Advocate (non-lqbtq): Read over the Queer Teacher Ally worksheet (How to be a Str8 Ally: 8 Resources for Teachers and Students) to better understand how you can support your queer colleagues and students! Feel free (read: encouraged) to share this ally sheet with fellow educators and students
10+ Minute Advocate (lgbtq): If you’re comfortable share your story to encourage other teachers in the U.S., offer advice to LGBTQ educators, or talk to other educators about worries/fears/coming out in the workplace/etc. Share your story at: http://www.outteacher.org/contact/
In the current political climate, it is more important than ever for LGBTQ students to feel represented, respected, and cared for. As role models and allies, teachers can make this happen, and potentially save student lives.
Continue being an advocate, and ensure that educators everywhere can #TeachwithPride.