So I spoke to the Head yesterday. Although I had said that we weren’t sure whether or not he knew about us, I was pretty much convinced that he must know. I mean, really. EVERYBODY knows. He MUST know.
Or apparently: not.
I walk into his office and he invites me to take a seat. I’m kind of nervous. My mouth feels ridiculously dry and my tongue feels big and clumsy.
Me: Um, this might be an issue or not, I’m not really sure, but, well, the kids seem to have figured out about me and L.
Him: *blank look*
Me: About our relationship?
Him: *blank look with just a splash of puzzled bewilderment*
Me: We’re…getting married? In the summer?
He congratulated us heartily and I explained the situation with the children asking me about who I was marrying. He was very supportive and said that as far as he was concerned, we could handle any further questions from them at our own discretion, but that if we came across any problems with people’s attitudes to challenge it and let him know as well so that he could back us up.
I felt incredibly relieved once the conversation was over; not least because we no longer have to wonder if he knows about our relationship. I don’t know whether or not the children will ask again. I feel a bit like they’ve had their moment, asked their questions, not got a particularly satisfactory answer, but still had a fairly final sounding answer (none of their business), so it may well be that this is the end of it.
And part of me feels like that would be a real shame. We will have to “come out” to the kids sooner or later. When I come back to visit and show off our baby whilst on maternity leave, I can’t imagine L not also introducing the baby to all and sundry as hers. In many ways it would be easier for the children we teach at the moment to be told the truth, rather than future year groups, as some of them have reached that conclusion already, no matter how they got there.
Today, coming in from the playground, I had to tell off a couple of the boys because rather than walking up the stairs in a sensible manner, they were hanging off each other and taking up the whole corridor, so I told them to put each other down. To which I heard one of the girls mutter, loud enough that her friends could hear, “Yeah, gaylords.”
I told her not to use those words in that way, but it did make me think about our situation and the object lesson we could potentially teach these children about acceptance and tolerance.
I don’t want our children to go to school in an environment where words like ‘gay’ are used as an insult. That may be too much to ask, but then again, in our school they come down on racist remarks like a ton of bricks. Our school is multicultural to the max: we celebrate Eid and Easter, Harvest and Diwali, Chinese New Year and Christmas. There is a truly lovely sense of community, despite the children coming from such a range of different cultures. There is a zero-tolerance approach to racism. It does make me sad that the same cannot be said for homophobia.
L overheard a girl in her class the other day, telling some other girls about how she used to go to Spain to stay with her Aunties, but now they’ve split up; I had a boy in my class two years ago whose dad had left his mum for another man when he was in Year 4; there is a little girl in a Reception class who is adopted – by two dads; a boy who left a couple of years ago was often picked up by his mum’s girlfriend: our school is clearly not in a gay-free zone. So it does bother me that homophobia is dealt with so lightly, if at all, not for my own sake, but for the growing number of children for whom this is an issue.
I have no plans to make any kind of announcement or proclamation to my class because I don’t feel that kind of approach would be particularly appropriate. Not every 10- or 11-year old displays the required level of maturity to deal with something like that, especially in my class. But I am quietly hoping that one or two of the more sensible ones do bring it up again, in a conversation or similar situation, so that I can be honest and get it “out there”.
I do believe you can change the world in little steps, but even little steps can be hard to make. No one else is going to fight this battle for us (and when I say ‘us’ I do mean The Gays: those the Daily Mail say have an evil hetero-hating agenda and won’t be happy ’til the whole world is one big, rainbow flag-waving Pride March), so I guess those little steps are down to us.