One high school teacher chose to come out to his school at an assembly, and the response from the school has been wonderful.
Daniel Gray, 32, came out at an assembly as part of LGBT History Month, which is in February in the UK instead of October like in the US.
The teacher told the Croydon Advertiser that when he was in training, he was categorically told not to come out. “They said you don’t want to give them any more ammunition than they’ve already got, and that’s really a very depressing and very sad way of looking at it. It’s assuming the students are out to get you.”
But he said that while working at other schools he learned that he wasn’t just avoiding talking about his private life, he was actively hiding information from his students. “It’s always felt like I was withholding something. I’d never lie, but I’d change the subject. Luckily I haven’t had too many of those questions, but I learn about students’ lives, and it’s just who I am to want to build positive relationships. You want to have a good relationship with your students, and part of that is being open about who you are.”
So, as part of a video shown to the school about diversity, Gray mentioned that he was gay. He said he wanted to be a role model for gay students. “I was so relieved when it was done, and then the response was just like ‘OK’ and a few people shrugged. Most people weren’t even bothered.”
Gray said the reaction from the school has been “phenomenal.” “We hear homophobic language at school and we stamp on it straight away, and we have done for years, but I think by personalizing it, it gets people thinking differently, they know someone who is openly gay and could think ‘oh, what would Mr. Gray think?'”
He even got emails from former students congratulating him.
The school is including books on LGBT history in its library and has been displaying rainbow flags as part of LGBT History Month.
“I think it just takes one person to say ‘It’s OK’ for the floodgates to open and for all these kids to just accept each other for who they are. Even if you don’t know who you are, you maybe just feel a bit different, there’s other people out there for you. You can be happy, you can be successful.”