I think I made a mistake at school today...
I am embarrassed about what has happened and I’m not sure I should even post this. But I think I need some advice, and some comfort, and I want to tell Scott but I don’t think I can do so in person yet. He asked me earlier what is wrong. I am very transparent. This post will get the conversation going.
Since Scott came out to the ward on Sunday, I have been invigorated. I have felt like we are letting our light shine and doing good in the world around us. So yesterday, as I heard different political conversations going on at work, I jumped in with my own disappointment on Prop 8 passing, and didn’t feel bad about explaining why. One was a teacher in my department that I hadn’t told yet. He was shocked, but I think this will be good for him. Others were secretaries in the office that were impressed with my story and attitude, and they had their own stories to share of gay family members that are hurt by the result of the election.
I figured that Scott is out to family, our ward, our friends on facebook, lots of my co-workers. It will be impossible to keep it contained at this point, and I feel good about spreading more understanding on the topic.
So when students have said things, I have not held back, and now I am afraid it has gone too far…
One of my classes has some students that are frequently teasing each other about being gay. I don’t know if any of them are or not, but their comments are inappropriate and offensive. A week or two ago, I asked them to stop and told them that their comments were offensive and that they might be hurting someone in our class from what they say. They pursued the conversation until, to prove my point I said, “Your comments are offending me because my husband is gay.” They pressed me for more information, and I gave a little, and then changed the topic. There were only a couple of students in the class that heard this.
Well, over the next few days, I heard them telling other people in the class, but I didn’t comment when asked. The students that know are the type of kids that lie constantly and everyone knows it, so no one seemed to believe them.
Then today, our school news program came on the TV screen, and it started with a clip from David Archuleta’s new music video.
One of my students (this is a different class, BTW) said, “Argh. I hate him. My grandma thinks he is gay.”
Me: I don’t think so, but so what if he is?
Student: So what? He’s gay. He’s a homo.
Me: There’s nothing wrong with homos.
Student: Ooooh, don’t say that. They don’t like to be called that. They’re going to come throw rainbow skittles at your house for saying that. (Another kid joined in and they were laughing.)
Me: I don’t think so. There is actually someone who is gay living in my house.
Student: (shocked) Who?!
Me: My husband.
(Other students that happened to hear jumped in. He can’t be. How could he be married to you if he is? Do you have kids? Are you getting divorced? Does he have a boyfriend? etc.)
I answered a few of their questions calmly and appropriately, and realized I had probably made a mistake. But then the bell rang and I quickly delved into things I needed to get done during my next class and forgot all about it.
Later, my last class started trickling in. A couple of boys came up to my desk. One of them asked if everything had gone okay with my cat and if I was okay. (I found out during their class on Tuesday about the cat and started to cry, and they were very supportive of me.) Suddenly one of the boys said, “Is your husband gay? I heard that your husband is gay.” The boy asking about the cat then said, “Yeah, I heard that too.” Then someone else said, “Yeah, me too, but I wasn’t going to ask her about it.”
I sat still for a bit, just looking at them while they continued to ask and spoke of discussions they had heard amongst students earlier. I finally quietly nodded. Then one of the boys started going off with more questions, not giving me time to answer before throwing in comments like “You should send him to Germany. They kill gays there. You’re okay with it? If my girlfriend told me that, I would shoot her. You should shoot him; he doesn’t deserve to live. He likes sausages. You’re okay with that?...
Tears started to well up in my eyes. The other boys pulled him into the hall and the class was quiet. I took roll, and as I finished, the boys came back in the room. The one apologized and asked me what he could do to make up for it. He was very helpful throughout the class and didn’t say another word about my husband.
But the damage was done. My brilliant shining light from yesterday was extinguished, and I was hurting. I felt stupid. What have I done? Where will this go from here? Would any of these teenagers actually try to hurt me or my family for what we are?
I can’t take back what I’ve said. And maybe I’ve helped someone in the classroom who was quietly listening to my opinion, hiding what they are inside. But I feel it is more likely that I have only hurt myself, and I don’t know what to do about it.
Meanwhile, my gay students have started gravitating toward me. They show up after school or during lunch just to say hi or hang out. They bring their friends. I enjoy talking with them. They cheer me up and their presence reminds me that maybe for them, it is good that I have spoken up.
But part of me is now down and depressed again and worried that parents will complain and students will act aggressively. I think I am just letting the worst possible thoughts get to me.
Only time will tell.
4 weeks ago