Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Hetero-Normative Blah Blah Blah

Relics of Conflicts
Long Since Resolved
I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Or both. So I did.

Tonight in class, we were asked to role play how teachers should present standardized test scores to parents during parent/teacher conferences, focusing on awkward or challenging family situations.

You can guess where this went.

One of the scenarios portrayed a gay couple, two men, and one of their daughters meeting with a teacher for parent/teacher conferences. Nearly every standard "fag" optic was present, including the t-shirt tied up into a mid-riff. The men were mincing and overly affectionate. The daughter was assumed to be horrified. The teacher struggled to ask if there had been any changes recently that could explain the daughters sudden drop in grades.

Please remember, these are all adults--most in their mid-forties--role playing the situation. No one was actually related to anyone.

I happened to be seated in the back, watching the role play, and I did laugh a bit to see my classmates so out of character. I stopped laughing, though, when the "recent change" was revealed to be the new Dad moving in. I grimaced when the conclusion was the teacher referring the whole family to the school's Social Worker for counseling.

I considered coming out in that moment to the class, but I remembered what I've heard Chely Wright say about showing discretion and discernment. Plus, the jagged edged remarks of my classmates reminded me that my career was on the line--three of them work in my district.

Then it hit me. If we had 20-year-olds in that class, that dumb skit would likely never have happened. Or if it had, no one would have been assumed to need therapy. There would be no connection between same sex parents and a child's drop in grades.

I suspect these assumptions were displayed (showcased?) in my graduate level class tonight because of the age of my classmates. Not because of bigotry, or institutional hetero-normative blah blah blah. Although it could be part of it, certainly, but I think it happened--and was endorsed and applauded by the aging professor--because of the age of the students.

The twenty-somethings I know would not assume those things. They would likely consider the referral to the social worker a waste of everyone's time, and would look far beyond the "two daddies" factor to determine the cause of the lower grades. They would have handled the entire assignment differently.

I don't know if I handled it well. I didn't speak up. I didn't come out. I didn't change anyone's world. But I sense that the world around me changed, nevertheless, as antiquated assumptions moved that much further into the past.

I am exhausted tonight, and I don't know if I am writing this well or clearly. But my heart is grateful and optimistic--I hurried home to type this up for the world and post it.

Things are getting so much better.

(Reminder: I do not know Chely Wright personally or know anyone who knows her personally. The musings in this blog are mine only and represent no one else. I promise.)