Coming Out, Professionally
I recently “came out” professionally, meaning: while working I won’t defer to the word “spouse“ and I WILL say WIFE. I won’t pull back from conversations about family, in fear of rejection or losing my job.
The company I work for is amazing and all of my colleagues are incredibly supportive. We have a large representation of LGBTQIA+ employees. However, I travel throughout North America working with educators and that is where fear sets in. We have all heard the stories about educators losing their jobs just for being themselves.
Recently, a colleague of mine (a Dallas area librarian) was presenting at a large Texas education conference. At the beginning of her session, she stated her pronouns and that she was Bi. She was targeted by conference organizers that immediately set out to silence her. This organization has yet to publicly apologize to her and instead chose to quietly create a “Diversity and Inclusion Committee.”
If the people that interact with children daily (our educators) are silenced, can you imagine the messages being sent to our LGBTQIA+ youth?
This instance made me realize the cost of my silence. Representation MATTERS. WE are everywhere. We are your teachers, doctors, nurses, police officers, social workers and so much more.
The result of my professional “coming out” has been amazing. Educators that I have known for years, all of a sudden began sharing their stories. Stories about themselves and also about their own children, family members and students filled my inbox. I even had a very special teenager in my life announce that she, too, was part of the beautiful spectrum of the LGBTQIA+ family.
Remember your story matters. YOU speaking out could save a life...maybe even your own.
Kimberly Wright is a former Science teacher, keynote speaker, world traveler and avid runner. She was born and raised in the borderland, the child of a Korean immigrant. Kimberly calls El Paso home with her wife and children. She is an advocate for change. Kimberly currently works for Discovery Education as the Project Manager for “Ignite My Future in School,” a program that gives educators and communities free computational thinking resources. Through this program, she works with educators and students to solve community, societal and global problems.
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