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.
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.