I started a new teaching assignment last week: 60 sixth graders in two classes. They’re an energetic, fun, and talented group and I like them all very much. I’m happy to have the job and finally feel up to being an actual teacher in charge.
It’s had its rough moments, of course, behavior-wise; this is a talky group and they are also pretty snarky with each other. It’s stuff we’re working on. But all-in-all, I’m enjoying it and making the transition pretty well (from an emotional perspective).
There was one moment, however, this morning that took the wind out of my sails. While signing the weekly attendance verification forms in the office, one of the assistant principals asked to speak with me. The upshot was that a parent had called to complain that I had told the kids about having a partner. The offending phrase was uttered during the day last week when I took time out to introduce myself and have them introduce themselves to me. The phrase was, “My partner F——- and I have been together seven years and we have a 12-year-old beagle.” No other information related to this was given; I didn’t use any other words than “partner;” certainly not “gay” or anything like that. There was no advertorial/recruitment for the impressionable little 12-year-olds to come over to the dark side.
Nonetheless, this single phrase generated a hot call to the assistant principal, who was then put in the difficult position of having to promise to talk to me and then having to talk to me. She is very good at what she does and we had a good conversation, agreed on several things, and left it at that. Beyond that, I won’t say anything else about the conversation, except that it was pleasant and not a problem.
It still takes the wind out of my sails. Our relationship is recognized by the state (mostly) and we’ll file a joint state tax return in 2008. Yet here comes the harassment. I’m glad there was no demand for my head or resignation or firing or “get my daughter out of his class” or any of that. But parents talk to each other. As do the kids. I know that at least two of my students now know what a “partner” is, and I know there is the potential that the parents do as well. By this one phone call about a single, honest, two-second statement, there is now a sword of Damocles over my head. While the administrators would back me up, well, when parents get angry and then say the magic word, “lawsuit,” well, let’s just say school districts don’t go to bat for their homos. I’m not paranoid, but I don’t like this.
Still, I told the truth to my students when asked an honest question. It’s a principle that I teach and expect my students to uphold; I can’t be bullied or scared into abandoning when things get unpleasant. We’ll see how this shakes out. Most probably, nothing will happen. But my wind is up, as the Brits say.
(Cross-posted in the Teach and Love blogs.)