Gay Parent Substitute Teaches in Dallas – A View From The Trenches

As I am between jobs in the corporate world I have been working to
do some good in the LGBT community. I launched my “John Selig
Outspoken” podcast in July and, in fact, am in the process of
editing a fun interview with Jennifer Chrisler, which I hope to
have available in a few days. I have also been writing a monthly
column about the USA from a gay perspective called “From Across the
Pond” which is being published online (with hope of going into a
print edition later this year) for a British magazine called, “Hot
Wild & Free.

“This week I began substitute teaching in the Dallas Independent
School District. Education has always been important to me both my
own as well as my son’s. I was one of the founding board members of
the Dallas Chapter of GLSEN.

I’ve decided to become a substitute for two reasons. First of all
it enables me to make a contribution to the local schools (after
thirty years of clinging to the corporate merry-go-round) and
provides some needed income during this unsettling period between
jobs as well. I have purposely chosen inner city schools near where
my husband and I live rather that subbing in wealthier, whiter
suburban school districts.I have made it through my first 3 days
(two in elementary school and one in high school) and I’ve already
been amazed at what I have observed. I have met some tremendously
dedicated teachers and administrators. Teachers regularly dig into
their own pockets to purchase extra supplies and teaching
materials. They are dedicated to preparing their students with
necessary skills needed to navigate through our ever more complex

My first day involved my being a sub for 24 fourth grade students.
I was shocked to sit in and observe their writing teacher work with
them on papers that included outlines, Sentences with ten or more
words that included complex adjectives. They wrote rough drafts,
then revised, then edited and then wrote a final draft. Fourth
grade … inner city school. My second day involved my being part
of a 3-person team teaching music for all of the elementary school
grades (K-5). We taught six fifty-minute periods. The amount of
behavior modification that teachers must was rather surprising.
After the first two days I became extremely hoarse. John Selig
speaking softly and minimizing the quantity of my speaking is a
rare occurrence, celebrated by those dearest to me. Today I served
as a hall monitor at the local high school as the students were
taking finals so I didn’t get to do any teaching.

I am happy to report that after three days I didn’t hear even one
“That’s so gay” or any students calling another student a faggot. I
haven’t yet figured out how I will handle such an incident if and
more likely when I observe it. One thing I won’t do is keep my
mouth shut about it. I did have the opportunity to meet a number of
teachers each day and I was able to find an opportune way to come
out to each of them.

I recommend this experience to all parents. It is quite different
experiencing the classroom when it doesn’t directly relate to your
own or your kids’ educations. If more parents and more corporate
managers spent time in the classroom, just maybe schools and
teachers would receive adequate resources and budgets needed to
provide quality education for the next generation. I’ll keep you