Achieving Against The Odds Cl (The New Academy) by Esther Kingston-Mann, Tim Sieber

By Esther Kingston-Mann, Tim Sieber

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As I learned from my colleagues, the judgment was encoded in a notion of the private or personal, which, like the notion of the natural, presented itself as a criterion for judgment while actually legitimating a pre-existing taboo. I am not being facetious, then, when I propose a merciless campaign of outing heterosexuals! As it is, straight people rarely reflect on their sexuality as a personal choice or preference because they tacitly assume it as the norm. This heteronormativity then becomes ubiquitous and, in that sense, invisible.

So we would leave the story with the myth unchallenged. Living in the closet, in short, was significantly limiting my integrity and effectiveness as a teacher. For me, this conclusion was as difficult to accept as it was inevitable, because the emotional hurdle of coming out had only grown higher during the years when I had contemplated jumping it. To be out in all contexts became my goal, although, in kindness to myself, I did not take this on as a standard to be met at every moment. I am mindful, too, that gay and lesbian professionals, including some of my colleagues, do not take this on even as a goal.

Students know that in this moment, I am socially vulnerable, and they have to decide how to handle the power they are now conscious of possessing. I feel vulnerable, too. My heart beats too fast; I blush and then, if I notice it, blush still more. Since as a teacher I am cautious about boundaries, the fact that some students may respond as if I had stood on the desk and stripped will always be extremely hard for me. However, as time goes on, I become smoother at this, and the worst of the physiological panic begins to recede.

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