proposition 8 would have changed my life

Prop 8 was a 1978 statewide ballot initiative that proposed to ban gay men and lesbians (as well as their supporters) from being employed as teachers in public schools. I didn’t learn about the proposition, which was defeated, until I was all grown up. But way back in 1978, I was in a California elementary school, sitting in the classroom of my 5th-grade teacher, who I am pretty sure is gay. I don’t know if I knew he was gay at the time, but by the time I hit middle school, everyone gossiped that his partner was the vice principal there, and I imagine that was the true story, though I of course will never know for sure.

But I never suspected that my 2nd-grade teacher was a lesbian until someone posted this photo from a school picnic on facebook. Here are the teachers in a row: 2nd-grade, 3rd-grade, 5th-grade, unknown.

john muir teachers

I think my suburban upbringing included more diversity than I realized. Butch lesbian or hetero-hip 70s feminist? Either way, rock on, Ms. Grade 2! It’s amazing how the suburbs are really only as sheltering and homogenous as everyone is silent and closeted. I wonder what, if anything, would have happened if these teachers would have come out and asked us to ask our parents to vote against Prop 8? Then again, as I look at that photo, maybe they weren’t closeted at all, and my parents were just too blind to see.

One thought on “proposition 8 would have changed my life”

  1. Or, maybe your parents only cared whether or not little Tina liked school, and was learning how to read and such…Maybe they knew, or suspected…We know a good bit about raving homophobes (like my mother…) who’d have had them all fired, then shot. But I’d like to see some serious qualitative work on acceptance or indifference in the bad old days. Is there anything like that around? PFLAG didn’t get going until much later, but when you work and live with people for decades, the closet door comes open a good bit.


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