To Tell or Not To Tell: Should You Out
Yourself to Your Child’s Teacher?

by Jennifer Polk, MA, Ed.

A new school year has just begun and I’m sure many of you may have been wondering and may be worrying about this: as parents, should we tell the teacher we are gay or not?

Several years ago, I was a student teacher in a kindergarten class. On the third day of school, a little boy named Sammy raised his hand and announced to the class he had two mommies. Well, all the rest of the children had many comments and questions after this announcement.

BlackboardThe teacher (who was unaware of this fact) handled the situation well. She stated that all families are different. Sometimes a family may be made up of step parents, grandparents, two moms or dads, aunts, foster parents, etc… but the important thing to remember is that all our families love us very much and care about us.

It was a great way to take the focus off Sammy. Some of you may think a person’s sexual preference is none of the teacher’s business and, to some degree, you are right. However, from a teacher’s point of view, there are situations we are put into as educators that would make knowing this fact a vital one.

In case of emergencies, it is very important that the teacher is informed about who is allowed to pick the child up from school. Both parents may want to volunteer in the classroom and then the teacher will need to know both of you and what your relationship is to the student. Parent conferences are another example of a situation where both parents might want to be present and involved. Acknowledging that both of you are a big part of the child’s life can help set the student up for success.

It is not the teacher’s job to pass judgment or explain the fine details of homosexuality to the students. It is the teacher’s job to be well informed about their student’s lives, to protect them, and most importantly to help them to succeed. It is also their job to have open communication with both parents regardless of their gender preference. The teacher should keep this information confidential and any disclosure should be on a need to know basis only. Children can be mean at times toward anyone who is a little different from themselves. Sharing information about your family with your child’s teacher can help set up a positive, risk free environment for everyone. Also consider this: even if you decide not to tell, your child, like Sammy, might have other plans.

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