An Open Letter To Straight Teachers 

William Fujarczuk
Jun 2, 2014 · 6 min read
  1. The ones thinking, I don’t agree with homosexuality!
  1. Okay, think of it like this: If someone prescribes to a particular religion, they (by default) don’t prescribe to the beliefs of another religion. Despite different beliefs, individuals belonging to different religions can be civil and respectful toward each other. I’m not trying to get you to “agree” with homosexuality here, I’m trying to enlighten you on the experiences of some of your students, whether you “agree” with their sexuality or not.

I know what “heteronormativity” means, but do you really think it’s so engrained in everything? Are you making this a bigger deal than it is?

Knowing the meaning of the word is great, but the harder part is recognizing heteronormativity yourself. For me, it’s easy to see because, well, I’m gay. Heteronormativity (though I didn’t know the word at the time) was all I could see in my mid-late teens among my family, friends, in public, and in media (and when there were mentions of homosexuality, it was very much a “different” thing). Trust me, if you think there’s a lot of talk about gay people, I can promise you that there is way more talk about straight people. Y’all are everywhere.

Okay, so what about our education system? How is that heteronormative?

Ever asked a male student if he has a girlfriend, or a female student if she has a boyfriend?

There is so much to be aware of with queer issues. How am I supposed to know it all?

It’s okay to mess up, whether that means not pulling a student aside when a student uses the word “f*g” or using the word yourself. But here’s what I want you to do: call yourself out on it! And eventually your habits will change. I don’t expect anyone to stop being heteronormative overnight, but I do expect teachers to always be educating themselves to ensure that their speech, their behaviour, and their curricula (both formal and hidden) are not sending harmful (i.e., heteronormative) messages to students who are gay and perhaps already struggling emotionally with their sexuality.

Why should we put so much focus on gay students?

I took a “Positive Psychology” course in third year undergrad and I’ll always remember reading the explanation of the field of positive psychology:

    William Fujarczuk

    Written by

    teacher, optimist, and supporter of the Oxford comma

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