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Educators Queering Academia

Critical Memoirs

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Edited By sj Miller and Nelson M. Rodriguez

The memoirs in this collection represent a cross-section of critical reflections by a queerly diverse set of individuals on their experiences inhabiting a variety of spaces within the field of education. In their stories, the authors share how they queered and are continuing to queer the academy in relation to questions of teaching, research, policy, and/or administration. Their memoirs speak across generations of queer educators and scholars; collectively their work highlights an array of theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches. As snapshots in time, the memoirs can be taken up as archive and studied in order to gain perspective on the issues facing queers in the academy across various intersections of identities related to ethnicity, culture, language, (a)gender, (a)sexuality, (dis)ability, socio-economic status, religion, age, veteran status, health status, and more. By way of the memoirs in this volume, a richer body of queer knowledge is offered that can be pulled from and infused into the academic and personal contexts of the work of educators queering academia.
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Chapter Three: Reconciling the Personal and Professional: Coming Out From the Classroom Closet

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CHAPTER THREE

Reconciling the Personal and Professional: Coming Out From the Classroom Closet

RYAN BURNS AND JANET D. JOHNSON

 

In this chapter, we (Ryan, a high school English teacher, and Janet, a teacher educator) dialogue about Ryan’s experiences as a gay man teaching for social justice. Ryan was in Janet’s first class of teacher candidates at Rhode Island College and has taught since 2007. Seeking personal and professional safety based on his sexual and political identities, Ryan has taught in four different school districts. Janet has continued her advocacy work for teachers and students at RIC, inviting Ryan and other teachers to participate in various research and professional development endeavors.

Over the years, our roles have shifted from professor (Janet) and student (Ryan) to college supervisor and cooperating teacher, to colleagues, and, finally, to friends. In this piece, we explore two critical incidents that illustrate the complexities Ryan has faced during his teaching journey and how conversations with Janet helped theorize those experiences. We chose the term “LGBT” instead of queer because Ryan identifies as gay. We are aware that this is a political as well as personal choice, but we believe it is important to stay true to his language.

WHO WE ARE

I (Ryan) am a White gay male who grew up with my sister in a single-mother household in an urban ring community. While I was not out at...

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