Some folks have been asking for the text of this amazing poem so here it is:
Confessions of a Closeted Teacher
©2010 A. B. Moore
I apologize for my silence and all the false statements I made that led you to wrong conclusions and missed opportunities for true understanding.
I apologize: For being too scared to put my family picture on my desk like other teachers do for fear of being accused of flaunting my sexuality
I apologize: For being too scared to answer your question truthfully when you asked me if I was married. I replied, No even though I had a partner of 10 years at home and two kids
I apologize: For talking in gender neutral pronouns when you asked me how my weekend was and what I did with my family for fear of making you feel uncomfortable
I apologize: For not coming out again and again and again to parents or colleagues by evading rather than answering the question, what is your husband’s name, or what does he do… for fear of flaunting my sexual orientation
I apologize: For being silent in effort to provide others comfort, and in effect privileging others comfort over my silence and discomfort
I apologize: For crying with you that day you were feeling you couldn’t survive another day of middle school because of the gay taunts and never telling you, I feel your pain because I am gay.
I apologize: For being fearful that when I discipline someone for homophobic actions, my actions will be read as self-serving not as the responsibility of a teacher trying to create a safe classroom for all students
I apologize: For telling you over and over it’s ok to be gay, but never telling you I was… for fear of being accused of “recruiting” you
I apologize: For never bringing up gay and lesbian parents during our discussions of families for fear of being accused of promoting “the gay agenda”
I apologize: For waiting years to come out to all my colleagues for fear I would be reduced to “the one lesbian” instead of a respected member of the staff
I apologize: For answering your question with a question out of fear of losing my job. I countered your “that’s so gay” comment in class and you asked me why do you care, are you gay? I deflected it with the question, “why, would it bother you if I was?”
I apologize: For not asking my straight colleagues for help in effectively interrupting homophobia and gender policing in our classrooms for fear of alienating myself more as the only gay person on staff
I apologize: For not asking straight teachers to be leaders in the effort to address homophobia and gender policing in our school and not helping them realize how dangerous this feels to a gay staff member. I feared I’d become a target as a trouble maker
I apologize: For not doing what was right for all kids because of my fear of losing my job and credibility as a teacher.
I apologize: For missing opportunities to counter stereotypes about people different from ourselves for fear of retribution, being reassigned, or moved to a less “public” space
I apologize: For never bringing up the Queer community when we were specifically discussing diversity issues, tolerance, and stereotypes for fear of being accused of promoting “the gay agenda” in the classroom
I apologize: For supporting with my silence the idea that heterosexuality and strict gender performance is the norm and all else is not normal
I apologize: For internalizing the homophobia surrounding me and sometimes in my weak moments doubting myself
I apologize: For missing opportunities to help all students integrate all aspects of who they are in healthy ways and not have to hide parts of themselves to survive in our school
I apologize: For not coming out in fear that everything I do will be read as self-serving, the single act of an angry lesbian, or read as representing the whole Queer community with my actions
I apologize for all of these missed opportunities for real teaching.
I wish I could be fearless in my job.
I wish for the day I could be out not just to my colleagues but to all my students.
I wish straight teachers would become allies and take a leadership role on campus in interrupting homophobia and gender intolerance.
I wish all teachers would feel it was their responsibility to learn the language to discuss and address issues of diversity including LGBTQ community instead of remaining silent and fearful of making a mistake.
I wish straight teachers would understand that gay and lesbian colleagues would do more if they felt safer to do so.
I wish kids in all schools could move through the halls without experiencing slurs having to do with their gender performance or their sexual identity. But at least if they did, they would have a place to go or a person to report to that could make a difference and really support them.
I wish all teachers would take a “next step” to understanding the issues and start learning language by watching the films like “It’s Elementary” and “It’s Still Elementary” , asking for LGBTQ training as an in-service, and accessing GLSEN resources.
If I have an agenda then I guess this is my “Gay Agenda” and for this I will not apologize .
This poem was recently shared in a choral reading at an event after viewing this video:
FYI I do not know the people who made this video. It was posted to the It Gets Better web site and it was made by two closeted teachers.