Utne Reader/Be Proud of Who You Are

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The Secret That Wasnt by Daniel Drennan

Be Proud of Who You Are

As I read this article by Daniel Drennan, I thought about how gay and lesbian students are an invisible minority within schools. To say, not here in our school, is only fooling yourself. I personally feel there are two places in this world that a child should feel safe no matter who they are. Those two places would be the school and the home.

In my role as an educator, I will deal with the silence of this invisible minority. First of all, homosexuality does not necessarily come up in conversation in my classroom unless someone calls someone else gay or something like that. I do believe that each of us should be proud of who we are no matter who we are. I am proud to be an Indian. If all women of color were told to walk into the middle of a circle, I would walk in the middle with a big smile on my face. I was oppressed many times throughout my elementary years but my mother always said, Be proud of who you are. The problem for some kids is that they dont know who they are. It takes some hard work to find that inner self and to be proud of the person that is found. I dont feel you can be happy in life unless you find your inner self. You can fool yourself for a long time, however, and try to find happiness. But it does take finding your inner self to be happy. If that inner self is a gay or lesbian, so be it. Be proud of that person you find. Dan knew he was gay but he didnt know that his parents would accept him for who he was. When he finally found the courage to tell them, they responded with, OK. Wow! Dan lived all those years in silence and he really didnt need to.

Im sure people will think while reading this, What would you do if your child came home and said he was gay? When I look at the statistics that an estimated 30 percent of youth suicides are committed by lesbian and gay people, I know I would find acceptance and understanding for my child. Another statistic estimates that 26 percent of gay youth are forced to leave home because of their sexual identity. Why should gay youth have to silence themselves on who they are? A parent should lead the way to understanding and acceptance. A teacher is also in a position to be understanding and accepting to gay youth. I would rather have a gay child in my life than not a child at all. I would admit it wouldnt be the life I had intended for my child. However, am I living the life that my parents intended for me? I do know that my parents wanted me to find health, love, and happiness in my life. Did my parents want me to marry within my own culture? Since I found love, health, and happiness, my parents understand and accept me for who I am.

Through talking with one of my colleagues, I found one saying that she wasnt prejudice with people of color. However, the issue of homosexuality would be a hard issue for her to accept whether it was her own child or someone elses. I asked her if she would accept her own child as gay or lesbian? Her answer was, I would have to live the situation to know what I would do.

-- Anonymous, January 03, 1999

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