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Voices from the Glass Closet: Lesbian and Gay Teachers Talk about Their Lives.

Kissen, Rita M.

Abstract: This study explores issues of importance to gay and lesbian teachers. It seeks to answer questions and to dramatize the damaging effects of homophobia on the lives of gay teachers, as well as all teachers and students. The project was narrative and qualitative, consisting of informal and open ended interviews of 10 self- identifies gay or lesbian teachers or counselors in grades pre K-12. In spite of the variety of questions and answers in the 10 interviews, 3 recurring themes emerged. The first involved the teachers' self-definition as lesbians or gay men, their self-concept as teachers, and the intersection of those two identities. The second major focus was the damaging effect of homophobia on their daily lives in and out of the classroom. The final theme was the need to develop strategies to avoid being fired and to nurture themselves in the face of tremendous pressure and stress. A few teachers actually felt that their position had been strengthened by partial or complete disclosure. Most subjects interviewed remembered wanting to be teachers from an early age. Only 2 of the 10 interviewed identified as gay before becoming teachers. Almost all of the subjects reported physical and emotional symptoms that they attributed to the strains of their lives as gay teachers. They regretted their inability to reach out to lesbian and gay students, but they are beginning to see that risk taking, disclosure and standing up for others are essential to their own self-worth. (DK)

Title: Voices from the Glass Closet: Lesbian and Gay Teachers Talk about Their Lives.
Author: Kissen, Rita M.
Note: 25p.; Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (Atlanta, GA, April 12-16, 1993).
Publication Year: 1993
Document Type: Conference Paper (150); Research Report (143)
Target Audience: Researchers
ERIC Identifier: ED363556
Clearinghouse Identifier: SO023493
This document is available from the ERIC Document Reproduction Service.

Descriptors: Behavioral Science Research; Elementary School Teachers; Elementary Secondary Education; * Homophobia; * Homosexuality; Secondary School Teachers; * Self Concept; * Teacher Characteristics; Teacher Education; * Teachers; Teacher Student Relationship; * Teaching Conditions

Identifiers: *Homosexual Teachers

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