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Reader: I have seen administrators lack the guts to support gay and lesbian teachers

"Over the Rainbow," Jessica Lussenhop, May 31

Rainbow's End

Hate to break it to you, Westword, but there are others living in this world who also get harassed besides gays. But it seems to me you couldn't possible comprehend the idea of leaving the homosexual issue alone for ten minutes and writing about other issues.

Here is a small list of people who get harassed on a daily basis in our public school system: Fat people, skinny people, short people, tall people, Jewish people, people who wear thick glasses, nerds, fashion victims, virgins, goths and freaks, and sluts.

And the list goes on and on. Your articles are about as boring and dull as watching the grass grow. I think you can spare the general public from your next worthless article: "Cross-dressing gays don't always feel accepted while riding the bus."

Brad

Posted at westword.com

Jessica Lussenhop's piece was well done. As a now-retired high-school teacher, GSA advisor and victim of bullying numerous times myself, I cannot begin to voice my appreciation for an article bringing these stories into the light.

Two months ago, while subbing, I was baited by a senior student who's known me since she was a ninth-grader. She informed me that according to her religion, marriage was between a man and a woman. She also told me that I could change if I wanted to! In that small group of two students and myself, I respectfully educated her that this is a civil-rights issue. We spoke of how conservative churches like hers and the one I was raised in can still choose not to marry us, but my marriage to my husband is no less significant than when I was married to a woman. We parted respecting each other's opinions with a hug. Five days later, I was called by the assistant principal, who told me a parent called in a complaint — the girl allegedly went home in tears — and that they were interviewing witnesses. Four days later, HR and a union rep called me into the district office; I was told the senior student felt there was a power differential and I was not respecting her religion (Mormon). I was told that a conversation with the almost eighteen-year-old student and the principal was not what the parents wanted. I was told, "This is not a reprimand. You will be blocked from all five of her classes; call me in the spring when school is out and I will unblock you. You can sub anywhere in the district, just not her classes." This translated to: "As Mormon parents, we don't want a gay married man teaching our senior daughter." They bullied the school. They bullied me. They won.

This sort of "religious holy moral value bullying" goes on a lot in education. I share this story as a reminder that it's not just students who are bullied. I have been name-called by students as an educator and have witnessed other gay educators being bullied via derogatory comments left on their chalkboard. I have seen endless administrators lack the guts to stand up and support their gay and lesbian teachers. When that happens, the creativity is drained from a school. This occurs everywhere, not just in suburbia Portland.

Thank you again for the great work!

Rich Matkins

Portland, Oregon

 
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2 comments
Realist
Realist

Lets list out all the dumb things this person did in their class: 1. Discussed your sexual orientation with a student 2. Discussed religion with a student 3. Hugged a student All three of things would cause problems for a teacher regardless of your sexual orientation. If the student brought the subject up the appropriate professional response expected from most of society would be "Im sorry, but we cannot discuss these subjects in a public school." Just because your gay doesnt mean you get a free pass from common sense.

Lisa
Lisa

I wish people could turn the tables. The next time a student talks about their religion and how being gay is wrong, keep that student from being in any of their classes. But then people would be outraged. It's ridiculous.

 
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