Abstract: Closets and Classrooms

Throughout my time at the College, I have had the opportunity to learn about the unique experiences of several social groups that all too often go unstudied and unrepresented in traditional academic settings. One such group that is of particular interest to me is the LGBTIQ community and how members of this group navigate society through the lens of a sexuality or gender identity that is considered non-normative.

Through preliminary reading and pilot interviews, I have come to realize the distinctive experiences that LGBTIQ identifying teachers have. Certainly, there are possible consequences of coming out regardless on an individual’s career, but I think there is a whole other layer of risk when the individual is a teacher because of their constant interactions with children and their parents. To try to really understand the experiences of LGBTIQ teachers and how they balance their identities with their careers, I will be working in conjunction with the William & Mary LGBTIQ Research Project to collect oral histories of LGBTIQ teachers living and working in the Williamsburg and Richmond areas. From there, I will be transcribing the interviews I collect to improve accessibility to this valuable research.

Through these interviews, I hope to better understanding of what leads teachers to choose to either come out or not come out to students and colleagues and how their careers have been shaped by this choice. Going forward, I hope the oral histories I collect can lead to a wider recognition of the unique struggles that LGBTIQ teachers face and to policy changes that would protect these individuals from homophobia and transphobia in the workplace.

I am extremely grateful to the Charles Center and associated donors for providing the necessary support for me to pursue this research.