After reading some friends’ blogs (Kara and Blaze) I decided that it was time to do my own, extremely belated, “National Coming out day” post.
You can probably guess what my main point is going to be, you have probably read a number of blog posts about how straight people don’t have to ‘come out’ and how it is (and it really is) totally unfair considering that the sexual orientation of someone should have literally no impact on how you live your life. Alas it is a topic that is becoming even more relevant with the rise of certain ‘politicians’. I cannot speak (or type) for every member of the LGBTQ+ community and my experiences will be different from the next person’s. What I can speak for is the injustice of the situation.
Having to have a disclaimer prepared for every person you meet must be exhausting. The fear of how they will take it and if it will change the relationship. You have to become a master of timing to know when is the appropriate stage to ‘break the news’ (as if it is a negative). Will they think of you differently? Will they still want to be in your life? Will they even care? I have adopted the approach of not having a disclaimer. It may be that until you say otherwise you are assumed to be straight but honestly, for me, there are worse things to be called. I like the idea of people not knowing until they literally see you in a relationship with someone. I am aware that this is my privilege talking and that for some there is a very real fear of people ever finding out, that their family will disown them or that they might get arrested because homosexuality is illegal in some places.
The reality is that people have a right to disclose this information when, how and if they want to. The most important being ‘If’. As much as I would love for everyone to be able to be 100% unapologetically themselves, I know that society isn’t ready for this yet. It breaks my heart but for now that’s how it is. If we want change then we need to get our priorities in order. We have more important things to focus on than whether I’m gay or bi or pan. Maybe I don’t know yet and that’s okay too. It is not a big deal.
One of the most important parts of being a teacher, at any stage in your career, is reflection. Anyone looking into teacher education does so with the knowledge that they will always be learning; both in terms of the curriculum areas and in terms of bettering themselves to ensure the best outcome for the children they teach.
Today we were tasked with writing a post reflecting on something from our first semester that has impacted our professional development. My first instinct was to write about my slightly disappointing assignment grade for the Values module. A completely average and perfectly acceptable grade for my first university essay but one I was not happy with. I could write for days about how this will make me a stronger essay writer and how getting used to receiving criticism will make me a stronger teacher. However, I feel like this is the obvious choice. When I really started to reflect on last semester, I realised that the essay isn’t the thing that has impacted my professional development the most; I am.
Allow me to explain. I feel like I have made so much progress even just after the first semester. A lot of it is to do with personal goals to about confidence and self worth but of course they will impact my teaching just as much as some academic goals. I have grown in terms of what I believe my abilities to be which is something I’ve always put myself down for. This growth makes me want to learn more and makes me excited for the future rather than scared of it. This is going to make me a better teacher because I finally feel like I can be good at it and also because I now understand that if we can make children enjoy school and find it interesting they will want to learn; and ultimately do better. If we want better academic results and motivation from children we need to make them more willing to learn. This comes from higher levels of confidence and self worth. Of course I already knew this but now I understand it.
This is why I hugely value the curriculum areas that focus on bettering the child personally. RME and PSHE are extremely important to me because we can use them as a means to build the child up from a personal level; not based on ability. We have the chance to make children feel like they are worth something and this is why I want to be a teacher.
If there is one thing I’ll always care about it’s the LGBTQ+ community. A community on the rise without a doubt but one that is still far too under represented in almost all aspects of our daily lives. Our hetero-normative world is often guilty of overlooking such a vibrant part of our society and even some of those who do pay attention don’t fully understand what they are paying attention to.
This acronym is constantly changing to be as inclusive as possible and it’s not there yet. These letters don’t even begin to cover all the possibilities but that is why we have the ‘+’. I can’t even begin to explain how I feel when people only use the first four letters; I know it’s a mouthful to say, and the ‘+’ seems unnatural, but in not saying it you exclude whole groups of people.
There are many debates over this acronym to do with the order of the letters and what letters are in it but the one used above is the most common. For many it’s the word as a whole, LGBTQ+, that matters. It gives a name to a community that for such a long amount of time, wasn’t allowed to be spoken of.
The issue many people have with ‘LGBTQ+’ is the definitions. It’s constantly retaliated with “What does it actually mean?” and “Doesn’t that mean ______ is the same as ______?”. The only advice I can give you is to stop getting so hung up on the little things. Many people will have a different definition that resonates with them. Two people might identify as queer but mean it in totally different ways and that is just something you have to accept. LGBTQ+ is an umbrella term for anyone who is not heterosexual/cisgender. It’s not a swear word. We are allowed to say it in front of children. It needn’t be a cause for embarrassment.
LGBT is four letters meaning four things but by adding the ‘Q+’ you open it up to be so much more. It is now more inclusive and one letter doesn’t necessarily only stand for one thing. Take Trans for example; an umbrella term in itself. Transgender can be someone who has transitioned to another gender or someone who identifies as another gender but feels no need to physically transition. Some who display characteristics that are stereotypical of a gender other than what they were assigned at birth may also identify as trans. This isn’t textbook learning. There is no one answer and we have to be okay with that.
We need to use the whole word, ‘+’ and all. Let’s be more progressive, let’s be more inclusive, let’s be more open minded.