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doubt
09-10-2011, 05:01 PM
I have a story in which one of the protagonists is a gay male high school teacher. During the course of the story, he comes out because he enters into a relationship. The setting is a middle American small town (population 5 - 10k people).

Now, I live halfway across the world from the US and I was hoping for some help with realism.

From my own experiences and talks with two gay teachers from my high school, I got the impression that being gay was something that was gossiped about, talked about, but mostly in secret. Major excesses came rarely, in the form of disgruntled parents (only if they had issues with his child's grade, nothing in any other situation) or bad students who would make slurs.

My first professor is one everyone 'knows' she's gay, but no one has hard proof. She's taught in the same high school for 40 years so it's become a sort of 'myth' (she told me it's true she's lesbian). I got to talk to her about it, and mostly what I said above stands for her. The principal has never talked, or hinted about, her sexuality. She feels it's not because it's such a non-issue, but because it regarded as something shameful everyone sort of pretends it's not there.

The other teacher was a younger geography professor who currently has a same sex partner. He takes a little more heat and gossip from the younger crowd, but it's also not something that would be brought up in conversation as an issue for the principal. He is open about it in the teacher's lounge with other teachers who are more liberal. If he gets abuse, he deals with it on his own most of the time.

My only resources for behaviours towards gay teachers coming out are some movies (In & Out) and real newspaper stories from teachers who got a lot of public attention due to getting fired, suing their schools, parents with pitchforks etc... So my impression is mostly how coming out as a gay teacher could be a huge spectacle, and it seems like really extreme conservatives can have a bigger voice than when I'm from. And that's probably not true to most real life cases.

I'd probably have my character go through some gossip, staring, whispering. But I'd mostly leave him alone. I don't want to make it a major conflict, but I don't want to make it a non-issue if real life dictates it wouldn't be.

So, what do you feel a gay teacher would have to face after 'coming out' in a small US town? In and out of the workplace. I know there are anti-discriminatory laws for the workplace, but it's probably different than actual reality.

Thanks for your help and insight.

Brutal Mustang
09-10-2011, 06:23 PM
I live in a small middle American town.

The woman who owns the ranch where I board my horses at is gay, and runs the place with her partner. Amazingly, people from all walks of life either board or take lessons there, including some Jewish people, and some ultraconservative Christians (the types of Christians where the women only wear dresses). Amazingly ... we all coexist quite peacefully! In fact, we all like each other!

Perhaps there are misconceptions about middle America. Middle Americans tend to be some of the warmest, most hospitable people you'll ever meet (if you drive down a country road in my area, expect every passing driver to wave like they know you [and you'd better wave back!]). As soon as these folks get over the shock that someone is gay, they tend to be just as nice as always. They certainly will stop and offer to help someone change a flat tire, no matter who they are. Part of this mentality probably stems from the fact that they live so far out. There is no gas station or police station they can quickly drive to. They are all each other has, and help each other as they'd like to be helped.

Cath
09-10-2011, 06:25 PM
I know there are anti-discriminatory laws for the workplace, but it's probably different than actual reality.

Right - I realize this may be slighly inflammatory, but in my experince (growing up in the UK and living in the US) the US is a long way behind in terms of tolerance and equality when it comes to sexual preference.

For example: anti-discriminatory laws in Ohio cover "race, color, religion, sex, military status, national origin, disability, age, or ancestry" - this from the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/4112). The law explicitly does not protect discrimination against homosexuals. In addition, Ohio is an 'at will' state, which means any individual's employment can be terminated immediately and without cause or recourse as long as the dismissal isn't discriminatory against any of the protected groups (which again excludes protection for sexual preference).

Opinions run very high here, and much will depend on the town itself. Small towns in liberal areas may be more tolerant, others will not be.

That said - Brutal Mustang is right in that once folks get over the initial shock, I can well believe everyone could coexist.

Maryn
09-10-2011, 06:32 PM
Large parts of the US are not okay with gay people being around their kids unless the gay person is 100% celibate. While there is no basis in fact, the fear is that gay men and women might somehow 'recruit' their children, making them gay, or molest them. In addition, in the Bible Belt (religiously conservative states) the basic tenets of many condemn gayness in and of itself, celibate or not. Then there's the morals clause of a teaching contract. Depending on how specific it is, a faculty member being seen in what appears to be a romantic relationship with a same-sex partner--inappropriate touch, which includes holding hands during a funeral--can cost that teacher his or her job.

There are, of course, live-and-let-live communities, even in Ohio (nod to Cath), but contempt and open discrimination is just as likely, if not more so.

Maryn, glad she lives where she does

Brutal Mustang
09-10-2011, 06:57 PM
Large parts of the US are not okay with gay people being around their kids unless the gay person is 100% celibate.

This sounds like an awfully unfounded, and judgmental statement, Maryn. I'd imagine you'd find people like this in Europe, as well. I know plenty of ultra-conservatives who'd be okay with a gay teacher.

Ari Meermans
09-10-2011, 07:02 PM
I've found this to be the case in small towns and in my own high school in the sixties.



From my own experiences and talks with two gay teachers from my high school, I got the impression that being gay was something that was gossiped about, talked about, but mostly in secret. Major excesses came rarely, in the form of disgruntled parents (only if they had issues with his child's grade, nothing in any other situation) or bad students who would make slurs.

My first professor is one everyone 'knows' she's gay, but no one has hard proof. She's taught in the same high school for 40 years so it's become a sort of 'myth' (she told me it's true she's lesbian). I got to talk to her about it, and mostly what I said above stands for her. The principal has never talked, or hinted about, her sexuality. She feels it's not because it's such a non-issue, but because it regarded as something shameful everyone sort of pretends it's not there.




But, this has happened in several of the larger cities I've lived in and, frankly, I don't know why that is. We've all been exposed to the idea that small towns are somewhat insular, hide-bound by tradition and religion while large cities, with all their diversity, are more open. But, I don't think that always holds true. Maybe—as I think about it—in small towns you're more likely to be seen as a person in the community. I just don't know.




My only resources for behaviours towards gay teachers coming out are some movies (In & Out) and real newspaper stories from teachers who got a lot of public attention due to getting fired, suing their schools, parents with pitchforks etc... So my impression is mostly how coming out as a gay teacher could be a huge spectacle, and it seems like really extreme conservatives can have a bigger voice than when I'm from. And that's probably not true to most real life cases.

Cath
09-10-2011, 07:07 PM
Brutal Mustang - I was the one who made the comparison with Europe. And my experience is that the anti-gay feeling in the US is more vocal and better organized than I've experienced elsewhere.

Ari - I think your point is well made actually. In small communities people may well be seen as a person rather than a type.

WriteKnight
09-10-2011, 07:13 PM
You can write the community any way you want it to be. The town itself is a character of your novel. If it's not a real town (in which case, you can do research) - Then you'll need to create the backstory and character of the town.

I think the 'plausibility' factor is that a small town in middle america is LIKELY to be less tolerant, certainly more 'gossipy' than a small town in say... Seattle or parts of California. As other have mentioned, there are geographical factors to consider. If I were reading your book, I'd like to know WHY the town is 'accepting' of a teacher coming out. I'd want to know the repercussions on their job - what are the school policies. What sort of community is it located in?

SO - first - Identify the state. Then the probable location of your community. Look up news stories for nearby communities. Shouldn't be too hard to find stories about gay hiring/firing incidents - especially relating to schools, churches, youth groups and such.

Then decide what your town NEEDS to be, in order to get the result you want. Who founded it? What's the main industry? Is it a white collar town? Blue collar industries? Likely a bastion of Liberal or Conservative voters? Huge influx of a particular ethnic culture? That sort of thing.

The Town IS a character.

Medievalist
09-10-2011, 07:32 PM
Part of this mentality probably stems from the fact that they live so far out. There is no gas station or police station they can quickly drive to. They are all each other has, and help each other as they'd like to be helped.

This is the nature of rural life, queer or not. You're so very dependent on your neighbors. Good neighbors will be accepted--and even protected--from "outsiders."

The small rural N.H. town I grew up in in the 1970s and early '80s had a lesbian co-op that made and sold bread. Everybody bought their bread; it was amazing. And the community was protective of them, because they were part of the community; they helped their neighbors. This is the other side of the "Good fences make good neighbors" concept.

Medievalist
09-10-2011, 07:35 PM
This sounds like an awfully unfounded, and judgmental statement, Maryn. I'd imagine you'd find people like this in Europe, as well. I know plenty of ultra-conservatives who'd be okay with a gay teacher.

Not the extent you find it in the U.S., no. You really don't.

It is more often tied to religious feeling and social class than anything else.

It is interesting to be interviewed for K-12 teaching jobs and have the committee delicately try to determine your religion, and your sexual orientation without being obvious about it (and both questions are illegal if the school is receiving federal funds).

ULTRAGOTHA
09-10-2011, 08:40 PM
In addition, Ohio is an 'at will' state, which means any individual's employment can be terminated immediately and without cause or recourse as long as the dismissal isn't discriminatory against any of the protected groups (which again excludes protection for sexual preference).

Most school teachers are covered by union contracts and thus cannot be fired immediately and without cause. Does the school district in the OP have a union? Not that union contracts necessarily include clauses protecting sexual orientation.

Also, a gay male teacher is very often viewed as more of a 'threat' to students than a gay female teacher. Sad but true.


Not the extent you find it in the U.S., no. You really don't.

Very true. I'm amazed at how much sexual orientation just isn't an issue on my travels to various parts of Europe. Where it is an issue here.



It is interesting to be interviewed for K-12 teaching jobs and have the committee delicately try to determine your religion, and your sexual orientation without being obvious about it (and both questions are illegal if the school is receiving federal funds).

Religion questions yes. But the Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA) makes it perfectly legal for institutions subject to Federal law to refuse to hire on the basis of sexual orientation. DOMA forbids the Federal government from protecting GLBTs.

BySharonNelson
09-10-2011, 09:07 PM
I think that in the US towns and communities come in all types. There are still towns that would react very negatively to a gay person teaching their children but then there are others that would have no problem with it at all and judge the teacher based on their merits. The bottom line is that you have a good basis for either scenario you just need to write the town as you want it to fit your story. I would think that depending on the age level of the children the teacher would get more judgement from the kids than the adults in the community; children can be very cruel and judgmental of things they don't understand.

Medievalist
09-10-2011, 09:24 PM
Religion questions yes. But the Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA) makes it perfectly legal for institutions subject to Federal law to refuse to hire on the basis of sexual orientation. DOMA forbids the Federal government from protecting GLBTs.

I don't think that's true actually; there are still pending cases regarding the federal worker with a same-sex spouse, and state marriage license, who applied for spousal healthcare benefits.

But sexual orientation has never been a protected federal status.

DOMA defines marriage—but it is not legal for a school who receives federal funds to discriminate in hiring on the basis of marital standing—that is, based on if the employee or potential employee is married, divorced, or single.

DOMA defines marriage; but it doesn't make it ok to ask if an applicant at a federally funded public school is married, has been married, or plans to be married.

They can absolutely refuse to provide spousal benefits to a same-sex spouse, even if same-sex marriage is legal in that state, and the employee is married.

You can ask, if the job description supports it, "Can you lift 50 pounds?"

You can't ask "Have you ever had back surgery?"

You can ask "What are you future plans?"

You can't ask "Are you going to be married in the next six months and will our health insurance costs change when you do?"

frimble3
09-10-2011, 11:25 PM
You could make it any way you need it, there's lots of room for variation. If the teacher has been teaching for a while, is a known quantity, people are more likely to take the 'coming-out' in stride, while if word gets out that the new teacher is gay, people will likely be watching his every move,even if just out of curiousity, as though the school had hired a Buddhist, or a New Yorker.
And, how far out of the closet is he coming? There are always rumours about teachers: this one drinks, that one is gay, the other has a secret life as a stripper.
Not having a girlfriend (or calling everyone 'girlfriend'), dressing well, being tidy: anything that in hindsight might be taken, by unsophisticated people, as 'gay' behaviour, would probably lead to 'I always knew. You could tell. It was obvious' after the coming out.

And, depending on the people in your small town, and neighbouring communities, there could be small-town pride at stake:
"We're not hicks like the next town over, we've got a gay teacher and we treat him just like a real person."

Fallen
09-10-2011, 11:46 PM
Very useful to know, Cath. Being English, it shocks me it varies so much from town-to-town over there.

I was school governor over here for a good few years, which included the hiring and firing and hedteachers. Age, religion, sexual preference etc would/should never come into the equation. As a parent to four kids each at different stages of education, a teacher's sexual preference has never bothered me, as matter of fact, I don't think it's even crossed my mind.

I think I'd be more pissed if a teacher got into a discussion over politics or religion with the kids.


Right - I realize this may be slighly inflammatory, but in my experince (growing up in the UK and living in the US) the US is a long way behind in terms of tolerance and equality when it comes to sexual preference.

For example: anti-discriminatory laws in Ohio cover "race, color, religion, sex, military status, national origin, disability, age, or ancestry" - this from the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/4112). The law explicitly does not protect discrimination against homosexuals. In addition, Ohio is an 'at will' state, which means any individual's employment can be terminated immediately and without cause or recourse as long as the dismissal isn't discriminatory against any of the protected groups (which again excludes protection for sexual preference).

Opinions run very high here, and much will depend on the town itself. Small towns in liberal areas may be more tolerant, others will not be.

That said - Brutal Mustang is right in that once folks get over the initial shock, I can well believe everyone could coexist.

lenore_x
09-10-2011, 11:58 PM
I grew up in a small rural town... Washington State, so not a conservative state, but my home county at the time was quite conservative. At my elementary school there was a gay male teacher in a relationship with another man. Students gossiped quite a lot about it, but to my knowledge he never faced any threats or complaints from parents. My mom was acquainted with him, because she's gay, and for reals all the gay people in town knew each other. XD

That was the 90s. Depending on the culture of the town you're writing about, things could either have gotten better or worse for gay people since then. In my home town, which has become more liberal, things would probably be better. In an area that has been experiencing a lot of "gay panic" in the last decade, I imagine they'd be worse. In general, I think you'd be safe going with a nice-to-your-face-gossip-and-vote-against-your-rights-behind-your-back feel.

Georgina
09-11-2011, 12:51 PM
You might be interested in reading about the murder of Lawrence King (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E.O._Green_School_shooting). King was a flamboyant fifteen-year-old boy who was shot dead by another student in an apparent hate crime. Since his death, a lot of anger has been expressed towards Joy Epstein, one of the school's assistant principals. Epstein is a lesbian, and some people, including Lawrence's family, feel Joy encouraged Lawrence's flamboyant behaviour to further her 'agenda'.

(This was in California, incidentally.)

So even if your small town accepts your gay teacher, I think it's perfectly possible, should it suit your story, that they might turn on him if he did anything that was seen as being too supportive of LGBT students.

Cheers.

Becca_H
09-11-2011, 03:45 PM
You might be interested in reading about the murder of Lawrence King (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E.O._Green_School_shooting). King was a flamboyant fifteen-year-old boy who was shot dead by another student in an apparent hate crime. Since his death, a lot of anger has been expressed towards Joy Epstein, one of the school's assistant principals. Epstein is a lesbian, and some people, including Lawrence's family, feel Joy encouraged Lawrence's flamboyant behaviour to further her 'agenda'.

(This was in California, incidentally.)

So even if your small town accepts your gay teacher, I think it's perfectly possible, should it suit your story, that they might turn on him if he did anything that was seen as being too supportive of LGBT students.

Cheers.

In cases like these, it's only natural to place blame anywhere you can. One of his teachers also faced a lot of blame by giving makeup tips etc. (Or was this the assistant principal and I'm just getting confused?)

I think the real message from this story is the level of homophobia that can originate from the kids, rather than faculty or parents. Although, the kids probably get encouraged from a source, which could include parents.

When I was in primary school, I had a lesbian teacher (this was mid-nineties and the UK has come a looooong way since then). I didn't know she was a lesbian (I don't think I even knew what a lesbian was at that age) but she had a hate campaign against her by mothers in the school playground. They wanted her out and not teaching their kids. The school supported her 100% and ignored or attacked any homophobia. Eventually, it fizzled out. I only found out because everybody knew about this campaign, my parents included, but only a select few chose to take part in it.

tim290280
09-11-2011, 04:15 PM
Just throwing this one out there: a gay male teacher will be assumed to be a pedophile.

I can't claim knowledge of teachers as a profession in this generation, but I know the stigma of being a male teacher from those doing teaching at university. Male teachers have a lot of stigmas associated with them, double that for gay males.

Becca_H
09-11-2011, 04:21 PM
Just throwing this one out there: a gay male teacher will be assumed to be a pedophile.

I can't claim knowledge of teachers as a profession in this generation, but I know the stigma of being a male teacher from those doing teaching at university. Male teachers have a lot of stigmas associated with them, double that for gay males.

Just a little bit of a generalisation.

Male primary teachers over here are in short supply. There are calls for more due to concerns over a lack of male role models for today's children, especially boys. It doesn't mean there aren't male primary teachers though, and they have successful careers.

At secondary level, it's something like 35% male teachers.

doubt
09-11-2011, 05:37 PM
My experience with gay teachers (and teachers in general) is so vastly different from the US, so I'm having a bit of a hard time imagining my scenarios without having them overwhelm me. While there are many conservatives, as I said, they're the gossipy behind-your-back kind. There's no mentality of accusing gay people of recruitment or placing blame. None. They're more likely to yell at a 'faggot' because he has no place here and needs to be shipped to an isolated island, rather than wondering what he's doing to their kids. The US seems much more openly hostile and openly accepting at the same time.

I'd probably have it easier if I chose to set the story in one of the 6+ European countries that I'm very familiar (or comfortable, rather) with personally, but I guess this is a challenge...

I don't want to make it a major conflict in the story because it could overshadow other plot points, but then I don't want to make it fantastically idealistic.

Brutal Mustang, I think your middle America experience is what would work for me.

Cath and Maryn, I just spent hours researching Ohio for my setting, and then I finally read your posts. Oh man.


a faculty member being seen in what appears to be a romantic relationship with a same-sex partner--inappropriate touch, which includes holding hands during a funeral--can cost that teacher his or her job.
:O Any ideas how the superiors would go about firing a teacher for that? I guess most wouldn't openly say 'We're firing you because you're in a gay relationship'


Brutal Mustang - I was the one who made the comparison with Europe. And my experience is that the anti-gay feeling in the US is more vocal and better organized than I've experienced elsewhere.
This is what I concluded as well, probably a long time before this thread. A lot of Europe is more nonchalant. Eastern Europe is more conservative overall, brutal, but less organized and vocal overall about the wrongness of homosexuality. The kind of exposure only happens once in a while (Pride month and such). The US is much more diverse on both ends

WriteKnight - thanks. You brought up some good points I have to consider. Earlier, I was toying with the idea of a central Ohio fictional small town, but I have a lot to consider

BySharonNelson - yes, that's a concept to consider. As I mentioned in my first post, the younger teacher who is openly gay is getting some more abuse from the students (while adults are willfully ignorant). Kids can be cruel.


And, how far out of the closet is he coming?
He's a 28 (um, probably 29 by the time of coming out) year-old from a respected family, everyone loves him. He's perceived as the typical next door, well-rounded guy your momma would love to have for a son-in-law. I'm not planning for him to have a huge announcement, but he will live live with a guy and be affectionate on more than one occasion.


And, depending on the people in your small town, and neighbouring communities, there could be small-town pride at stake:
"We're not hicks like the next town over, we've got a gay teacher and we treat him just like a real person."
That could work well for me!
I love it when people treat me just like a real person. Really makes my day.


My mom was acquainted with him, because she's gay, and for reals all the gay people in town knew each other. XD
I feel like I know most gay people in my town, too.. -.-


You might be interested in reading about the murder of Lawrence King. Thanks. I've heard of it, but not the part about the lesbian teacher.
-------

I am a uni level teaching assistant in a same sex relationship, but it's completely different in my case since I'm teaching adults close to my age. I am friends with many of them. Most of the students probably gossip about my sexuality, but it hasn't been brought up in the last few years. It never even occured to me that it would be an issue in my uni setting, until just now. I'm not even worried, but I would be if I were teaching high school. Interesting.

tim290280
09-11-2011, 07:23 PM
Just a little bit of a generalisation.

Male primary teachers over here are in short supply. There are calls for more due to concerns over a lack of male role models for today's children, especially boys. It doesn't mean there aren't male primary teachers though, and they have successful careers.

At secondary level, it's something like 35% male teachers.
Of course it was a generalisation. But now tell me it doesn't ring true.

And yes I agree that there is a push on for more male teachers, especially as role models. I can also quote some interesting stats about where a lot of those men end up, due to allegations against them (father in-law is an education executive, has some interesting tales).

Maryn
09-11-2011, 07:48 PM
tim, I'm hard-pressed to remember which person posted this here a few years ago, but there was an angry male AWer who was justifiably furious that at his church's nursery program, male volunteers were no longer allowed to change diapers, lest they diddle the kids. Because, you know, all men want to play with babies' sexual parts.

Ugh. Just ugh. But the sentiment that men cannot be trusted around kids is alive and well. (The search might take a while, but the post is around someplace.)

How might a male teacher known to be gay (because he touched his partner at a time of crisis in a way a straight man wouldn't) be fired? Well, in a religiously conservative town, the morals clause will be considered violated. If you don't want to bring that into the story, you could have them fire him ostensibly for another reason, but really for his orientation. Every teacher, even the skilled ones, makes the occasional misstep. I finished reading a Harlan Coben novel recently in which a teacher's accidental mockery--and it really was accidental--of a student was a major plot point.

Maryn, hating haters

Brutal Mustang
09-11-2011, 08:06 PM
This is what I concluded as well, probably a long time before this thread. A lot of Europe is more nonchalant. Eastern Europe is more conservative overall, brutal, but less organized and vocal overall about the wrongness of homosexuality. The kind of exposure only happens once in a while (Pride month and such). The US is much more diverse on both ends.

The belief that middle America is largely homophobic is becoming more of a lingering stereotype everyday. Middle America has changed a lot, just in the past three years, and will continue to change. Your average American rancher is more reliant on his touch phone than your average city person (ranchers text back and forth about moving cattle, cutting hay, etc.). Most country folk have satellite internet, and are online quite a bit. In addition, many seriously religeous people, while they believe gay sex is a sin, believe they are to show compassion and kindness to everyone, as per their religion mandates. In fact, a lot of the gay people I know say ultra-religeous people are usually the nicest towards them. It's the half-religeous or even non-religious judgemental pricks they have to worry about!

Interesting enough, my barn had a girl from Norway come and stay for awhile, to learn better horsemanship. She'd never been around many gay people before coming here to middle America, and felt her 'progressive' town back in Norway would be more judgemental of them!

So yeah, be weary of stereotypes propogated by media, and such. Sure, there are a few in any society who ruin it for everyone by garnering more focus than they deserve. Because of them, the world is more complex than it appears.

Becca_H
09-11-2011, 08:36 PM
Of course it was a generalisation. But now tell me it doesn't ring true.

I would still be inclined to disagree. I'm pretty sure more men face false allegations of sexual assault than female teachers, and I wouldn't be surprised if openly gay men suffer even more, but I very much doubt everyone assumes they're paedophiles.

I think a trend of positive discrimination towards gay men is starting. Some of the traits of the gay stereotype are "caring," "affectionate," "empathetic," etc. The type of person someone would want looking after their kids.


In fact, a lot of the gay people I know say ultra-religeous people are usually the nicest towards them. It's the half-religeous or even non-religious judgemental pricks they have to worry about!

I don't know many religious people, but I do remember the ultra-Christian girl who very nicely told me that what I was doing was against God and she thought it was wrong. This girl had been my friend for a while before, and continued to be so afterwards. The only reason she mentioned it was because I asked if she had religious views on me.

A lot of homophobia over here seems to originate from and amongst the "laddish" male groups of friends, but even this is decreasing. And these types are athiests.

frimble3
09-11-2011, 09:03 PM
I don't want to make it a major conflict in the story because it could overshadow other plot points, but then I don't want to make it fantastically idealistic.
---
He's a 28 (um, probably 29 by the time of coming out) year-old from a respected family, everyone loves him. He's perceived as the typical next door, well-rounded guy your momma would love to have for a son-in-law. I'm not planning for him to have a huge announcement, but he will live live with a guy and be affectionate on more than one occasion.

It never even occured to me that it would be an issue in my uni setting, until just now. I'm not even worried, but I would be if I were teaching high school. Interesting.
There you go (the bolded part). If he's a local boy, from a respected family, he should be fine. No different than bringing in an 'outsider' girlfriend. Some of the local mammas may cry into their pillows at the loss of a potentianl SIL (their daughters probably knew there was no chance) and there will be some speculation about 'those people', but if they liked him before, the neighbours will get over it.
It would be a different story if he was a stranger in town, a new teacher with no local friends to show him around and vouch for him.

backslashbaby
09-11-2011, 09:34 PM
There may be a misconception that if the Religious Right type of stuff exists in a community that it has any real pull. It really may be there and the folks doing it seen as a bit nutty.

Back in the 80's we had a gay male English teacher and a gay male guidance counselor. The kids gossiped about whether either one was really gay. The parents probably gossiped, too, but we didn't hear it.

One Religious Right sort of mom let her daughter go on a Broadway trip with her English teacher, though. The impression I got was that she really disapproved of the man, but that was a personal thing. As long as her kid got As in his very tough class, she wasn't trying to get him fired or anything. Had his class been the least bit controversial, I'm sure that would have changed.

eta: she wasn't pleased about the NYC trip. But all the cool kids were going, so she wasn't about to leave her daughter out of that group!

tim290280
09-12-2011, 05:24 AM
I would still be inclined to disagree. I'm pretty sure more men face false allegations of sexual assault than female teachers, and I wouldn't be surprised if openly gay men suffer even more, but I very much doubt everyone assumes they're paedophiles.

I think a trend of positive discrimination towards gay men is starting. Some of the traits of the gay stereotype are "caring," "affectionate," "empathetic," etc. The type of person someone would want looking after their kids.
Put it this way, my father in law actually has a badge he wears when he goes to schools, issued by the education dept, that is to say that he isn't suspected of anything. A lot of the male teachers end up in similar roles to his because of allegations, so much so he gets a special badge to say he can be around children.


tim, I'm hard-pressed to remember which person posted this here a few years ago, but there was an angry male AWer who was justifiably furious that at his church's nursery program, male volunteers were no longer allowed to change diapers, lest they diddle the kids. Because, you know, all men want to play with babies' sexual parts.

Ugh. Just ugh. But the sentiment that men cannot be trusted around kids is alive and well. (The search might take a while, but the post is around someplace.)

Maryn, hating haters
It is sad that it is the assumption. Here in Australia you can't be a sport coach or take photos of your kids in a public place unless you have a police clearance and a license. Guilty until proven possibly safe.

AyJay
09-12-2011, 07:58 AM
I think the response you're getting reflects the great variation in life experiences of gay Americans in rural settings. Some get their houses firebombed. Others get elected mayor. It's the paradox of living in this lovely country, and either extreme -- and many in between -- could be written realistically, I think.

One thing that is also a factor is your character's personality. Generally, I'd say if he's well liked, the boy-next-door, as you describe, he'd probably have people rallying around him as they always have.