I’m not an innocent. I know that everyone has a different view of the world and that no one sees anything exactly the same way. I’m okay with that, even – it makes life interesting and, on good days, it challenges growth.
October 11th is National Coming Out Day. In honor of the day, and to promote awareness of TCC’s fledgling GSA, I took my multi-colored markers to every white board I had access to. I put up a big, pink triangle in a corner and wrote “It’s National Coming Out Day – do you know who you are?” then drew a rainbow flag and “TCC’s GSA” at the bottom of the point. It didn’t take up THAT much room on the boards, and I thought it was important to get that message out to our students.
While I was waiting for the professor who teaches in my second period classroom to finish his first period lesson, I drew my little announcement on the corner of the board of the room across the hall – the room that my coworker occupies for second period. He finished, we switched rooms and while I was drawing the notice on my board, he was erasing it on his.
Now, I should say here that I UNDERSTAND that it’s HIS board for the class period and that he was WELL within his rights to erase the message. That didn’t keep me from fuming about it, though.
I know, from what trusted people have told me, that this colleague of mine is homophobic and closed-mined. He believes what he believes, and no one is going to change his mind, regardless of how compelling the argument might be – or how shaky his foundations for belief are. Be that as it may, he is also a TEACHER and, as such, has certain ethical responsibilities to present his students with a range of information and ideas. While the NCOD message may not have been particularly relevant to his lesson plan, it certainly wasn’t HURTING anyone, either. As I said, it didn’t take up much white board space, it wasn’t offensive or pornographic or incendiary, it wasn’t ugly to look at and, most importantly, it wasn’t put there FOR HIM! I intended that message for the students in the class, and my coworker’s erasing it was, in my mind, equal to censorship.
My lit. students came into the room to find me at a low-grade seethe, and managed to get out of me what had been the trigger. A couple of my students (who, it turns out, had been students of Eraser Boy) decided that, when he dismissed his class for break, they’d not ONLY go back in there and put the sign back up, but they’d pass out GSA buttons and information to the students in the room while they were at it, which is exactly what they did.
Can you guess what happened when the teacher came back?
My class and I were all seated quietly around our table, the door to the room left ajar, listening for Eraser Boy’s reaction. He came in, took one look at his board, and said something to the effect of “YES, I KNOW who I am, so can we stop with the signs, already?!” and rubbed the message out again.
I know I’m going to have a confrontation with this man at some point. I’m not going to go LOOKING for it, mind you – I’m not like that – but I know that, at some point, he’s going to say something ignorant and hateful in my presence and I’m not going to let it go because I promised myself that I WON’T let ignorant and hateful things go – my morality tells me that silence is tantamount to complicity in things like this.