Teachers and staff are the adults that hold the responsibility of making us feel accepted for who we are, while giving us a quality education. So, shouldn’t teachers also be given that same freedom to express their sexuality and still be accepted like their students?
The short answer would be, yes. However, the short answer undermines everything else that needs to be taken into consideration.
How comfortable a staff member should be in expressing their sexuality really comes down to their environment, the attitudes of the people around them, and how willing they are to share that information.
Like any other member of the LGBTQ+ community, it is not easy for a teacher to come out to their students. They are then burdened with the fear of how parents and students will react, and if they will still be viewed by their school community in the same way.
There are districts that are not so accepting of the LGBTQ+ community. It would be devastating for a teacher to have to relocate where they teach simply because they chose to share a part of who they are.
Ideally, it would be nice if teachers were able to share their sexuality and be mentors to students that are going through similar identity struggles, or haven’t come out to their families yet and need someone to talk to.
However, there hasn’t yet been an environment created to make teachers feel comfortable or secure enough to disclose this sensitive part of themselves. Especially looking at today’s politics, hate has been so easily expressed, vocalized, and it doesn’t seem to be settled.
Coming out in a politically tense environment can trigger a fear of what will be said or done about one’s sexuality. The thought of how the educator will be viewed by their co-workers or administration after coming out could be overwhelming.
A teacher in the LGBTQ+ community should be able to attend their work space or daily outings without fearing for their safety or career in doing so. An environment of acceptance, fellowship, and growth (particularly a school) is more likely to encourage open expression of who you are, versus a setting where you’re uncertain of the outcome. Disclosing should be encouraged in an environment that allows it.