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Supreme Court ruling ‘monumental’ for LGBTQ teachers | COMMENTARY

LGBTQ

At least once a month comes that dreaded question from one of my students, “Mrs. B, do you have a husband?”

Each time, I feel a jolt down my spine followed by a brief moment of paralysis. When asked about my partner, I always answer honestly or correct the record by sharing that I have a wife. But it is uncomfortable and always makes me think about the countless scenarios of teachers across the country who have lost their jobs simply for being their authentic selves. The thought of angering parents trying the protect their children from the “homosexual agenda” as a result of my honest answer is always stuck in the back of my head.

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The U.S. Supreme Court recently mandated workplace protections for members of the LGBTQ community. This ruling is monumental for teachers across the country who have grappled with balancing job security and being their authentic selves. Affirming that teachers cannot be fired on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity liberates them from any fears surrounding job security.

As children grow up and are discovering who they are, it is important that they have strong LGBTQ role models. When I think back to my time in grade school and college, it was very common for straight teachers to share basic information involving their spouse and family. Their personal lives were often spelled out in the form of pictures surrounding their desk. I also had a number of teachers who I suspected to be gay or lesbian, but it always felt like a secret or a topic that could never be discussed.

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While I didn’t realize it at the time, that culture of secrecy has seeped into my teaching career. The “don’t-ask-don’t-tell” culture in schools is the result of decades of fear and uncertainty — but no more. By liberating our LGBTQ teachers, we are ensuring promising futures for our LGBTQ youth. This ruling turns the page to a new chapter of my teaching career. The future desk photos of my wife and I are already picked out and ready to be framed.

Lisa Belcastro, Pikesville

The writer represents District 11 in the Maryland House of Delegates.

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