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School's Out

School's Out: Gay and Lesbian Teachers in the Classroom

Catherine Connell
Copyright Date: 2015
Edition: 1
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    School's Out
    Book Description:

    How do gay and lesbian teachers negotiate their professional and sexual identities at work, given that these identities are constructed as mutually exclusive, even as mutually opposed? Using interviews and other ethnographic materials from Texas and California,School's Outexplores how teachers struggle to create a classroom persona that balances who they are and what's expected of them in a climate of pervasive homophobia. Catherine Connell's examination of the tension between the rhetoric of gay pride and the professional ethic of discretion insightfully connects and considers complicating factors, from local law and politics to gender privilege. She also describes how racialized discourses of homophobia thwart challenges to sexual injustices in schools. Written with ethnographic verve, School's Out is essential reading for specialists and students of queer studies, gender studies, and educational politics.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95980-4
    Subjects: Sociology, Business, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. CHAPTER ONE Pride and Professionalism: The Dilemmas of Gay and Lesbian Teachers
    (pp. 1-34)

    At seven o’clock on a June morning in 2008, I gathered with a group of Los Angeles—area public school teachers and students to march in the West Hollywood LGBT Pride Parade.¹ While conducting research for this book, I had met the members of an advocacy group for teachers and administrators in LA public schools, and they had invited me to join them in marching with several local high school Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) members and their advisers. I arrived at our designated parade lineup position to find a small group of students and teachers milling around, eating doughnuts and...

  6. CHAPTER TWO “Like a Fox Guarding the Henhouse”: The History of LGBTs in the Teaching Profession
    (pp. 35-57)

    When Virginia Uribe began teaching high school in Los Angeles in the late 1950s, she could not have imagined how the teaching profession—and her life—would transform over the course of her career.¹ Virginia was married to a man when she began teaching, but within a few years she had divorced her husband, fallen in love with a woman, and begun to identify as a lesbian. She soon came out to close family members and friends, but it would be another two decades before she began to come out at work. She explained, “I just thought being in the...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Splitters, Knitters, and Quitters: Pathways to Identity Making
    (pp. 58-93)

    In his twenty-two years as a teacher and an administrator in California public schools, Mark’s feelings about how to negotiate his sexual identity in schools ranged from wanting absolute separation to wanting complete integration. In the early days of his career, Mark did not yet identify as gay: “I started teaching when I was twenty-three, and I didn’t start that whole process [of becoming gay] until I was about twenty-seven or twenty-eight. So I was not only closeted for those first four years, I wasn’t even identifying.” Once he did actively identify as gay, Mark was careful to keep his...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Dangerous Disclosures: The Legal, Cultural, and Embodied Considerations of Coming Out
    (pp. 94-130)

    In the winter of 2008, I interviewed Barbara in her seventh-grade Texas classroom, after her last class of the day. I sat across from her at her desk, which was piled high with homework and reports, as well as pictures of her dog and drawings from past students. Barbara had been teaching for four years, but she had just transferred to her current school at the beginning of the semester. Her demeanor was brisk but pleasant, with an air of efficiency she attributed to her busy schedule, which included classroom instruction along with frequent classroom observations and teacher meetings on...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE “A Bizarre or Flamboyant Character”: Homonormativity in the Classroom
    (pp. 131-153)

    In the summer of 2008, I attended a meeting of the Gay and Lesbian Allied Administrators (GALAA) in a nondescript office park in downtown Los Angeles, not far from the LA Unified School District central administration office. Since 2006, when it began as a support group for gay and lesbian administrators, GALAA has broadened its scope to include all educational professionals in the distinct, including teachers and school staff. Although I followed the directions to the meeting given me by one of the group’s coordinators, when I walked into the conference room, I hesitated, unsure if I was in the...

  10. CHAPTER SIX Racialized Discourses of Homophobia: Using Race to Predict and Discredit Discrimination
    (pp. 154-180)

    The Gay Straight Alliance at the Woodrow High School in Austin, Texas, meets Tuesdays after school.¹ One Tuesday afternoon, early in the fall of 2008, Brian, the GSA adviser, allowed me to sit in on a meeting. About a dozen students were present that day. All of them were white, and about half were girls and half boys. Most identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual, although three described themselves as “allies,” or straight–identified supporters of LGBT rights.

    That afternoon, the group was deciding on a mission statement. Justin, a gay–identified student, led the discussion. The students considered several...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN From Gay-Friendly to Queer-Friendly: New Possibilities for Schools
    (pp. 181-194)

    When I tell students in my undergraduate courses about my research, they collectively react with surprise, but for contradictory reasons. Many of my current students were raised in Massachusetts or other New England states with strong progay policies, and they are often taken aback at the idea that gay and lesbian teachers still face workplace discrimination. They gasp aloud when I tell them that teachers in many parts of the country can be legally fired for identifying as LGBT. But others are surprised for entirely different reasons: they have experienced firsthand how homophobic school climates can be and are amazed...

    (pp. 195-210)
    (pp. 211-212)
  14. NOTES
    (pp. 213-228)
    (pp. 229-248)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 249-254)