“As a primary school teacher I’d always worried about mentioning my sexuality, despite the fact that my colleagues talked about their husbands, wives and significant others all the time.
Then, as part of anti-bullying week, I’d asked who’d heard ‘gay’ being used as an insult. Almost every one of my class put their hands up. I was stunned.
Then I asked who thought that people who were gay or lesbian were bad or wrong in some way, again almost every hand went up.
After speaking to my Head, who was very supportive, we agreed I could tell the class that I’m gay so they at least knew one gay person and hopefully explain that when people use that word they’re talking about me.
The reaction was fantastic – there were a lot of gasps and shocked looks and some basic questions – do you have a boyfriend, etc – but after a couple of minutes they were over it and we moved on to the rest of the lesson.
The letter came a couple of days later. The little girl who wrote it gave it to me at the start of the day with all the other slips about dinner money, school trips and doctors appointments.
Reading it brought tears to my eyes and it took me a little while to compose myself. When I thanked her she just shrugged and repeated something one of the boys in the class had said during the lesson, ‘It’s just your life’. Then she went back to her maths.
For my class it was a surprise sure but, to them, it was just something simple and easy to file away as another piece of information. There was no judgement, no follow up, just acceptance.
Now, I can mention my fiance as easily as any other teacher and my class know me a little better. I’ve had a lot of letters and cards over the years, but this one I know I’ll keep forever.”
The letter from the 9-year-old girl A. to her teacher R.:
Dear Mr R.
Even though you're gay, I will always treat you the same way as I do now. I still think about you the same way as I used to. You're a great teacher and these are just some of the words that I would describe you as: great, amazing, fantastic, brilliant, awesome and brave. The reason why I say brave, is because you shared a personal secret which was very brave. You don't have to feel scared because I know that everyone in the class feels the same way as I do.
P.S. Mr R, we are proud of you.
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