James C. Hormel LGBTQIA Center

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Queer Teachers: Out of the Past, Into the Future

With all the flack that teachers have been subjected to lately in the mainstream press, it is past time to give a shout-out to those who continue to brave the difficult challenge of educating our future generations. The first selection, "And They Were Wonderful Teachers: Florida's Purge of Gay and Lesbian Teachers," by Karen L. Graves is a blow by blow historical account of a witchunt that began in the fall of 1956 growing out of a climate fueled by McCarthyism and the cold war, an environment that fostered distrust and suspicion. This book is the story of 87 gay and lesbian teachers, the victims of that purge. Their responses to this persecution are as varied and complex as those folks who testified before HUAC, the House Un-American Activities Council. Count this book as one that puts our present day struggle into proper historical context.

Our second book is an anthology edited by Nelson M. Rodriguez and William F. Pinar titled,"Queering Straight Teachers: Discourse and Identity in Education." These eleven essays are a jumping off point for a different kind of discussion, one that involves straight people just as much as queer ones. It relies on something that old school feminists used to call "conciousness raising." In this case, it just means waking up to the realization that heterosexism along with a preconceived and inflexible conception of gender, only serves to limit the opportunities for self-actualization and achievement for everyone.

No comments: