Dear Stacy Bailey,
I want to thank you and all the openly queer teachers across the country.
These last few weeks I have been hearing your story: you shared your authentic self and were suspended just because you showed your class a picture of your future wife. I applaud you for filing a federal lawsuit against the school district and not bowing to pressure and resigning. You have every right to stay in your job.
I want to thank you for being a role model and showing LGBTQ youth like me that our presence matters. I am nearly at the end of my high school journey, and as I look back at my years in school, I am reminded of my few openly LGBTQ teachers. They showed me what it means to be out, proud, and passionate. When my middle school teacher, Mrs. Kramer, showed us a picture of her wife and her adorable dog it made me daydream of what my life would look like with a husband and my own kids.
I came out at the beginning of freshman year. If it wasn’t for openly queer teachers who showed me that being a part of the LGBTQ community was perfectly normal, I would have never had the courage or taken the risk to reveal my authentic self.
Stacy, your story is one of the many that we hear year after year about teachers who are authentically being themselves. Thank you for being an openly queer teacher who has no agenda but to teach students the power of kindness and respect.
The fact that there are so many places across the country where openly LGBTQ teachers cannot show their students a picture of their family is frustrating. Every teacher has the right to be their true selves; students and the community should rally behind teachers who are facing discrimination.
I encourage you, Mrs. Bailey, and all other queer teachers to stand tall and keep fighting. By fighting, you are showing me, and millions of other students and teachers across the country, that the right to be ourselves is undeniable. As I progress through college, I will work to make sure each and every person feels like they matter. I envision a day where difference, whether it be sexual orientation or gender, is accepted. Thank you, openly queer teachers, for being everyday heroes. I wouldn't be the proud and out person I am without your strength and determination to be yourself.
Danny Charney is a member of GLSEN’s National Student Council.