I became engaged this weekend, but I am keeping my engagement a secret for fear of losing my job.
V and I had a romantic getaway in Mystic Seaport, Connecticut this weekend. We arrived on Friday night, and she was super romantic and proposed under the stars by the water while I was a sarcastic ass. It was very us.
We were floating on Cloud 9 the entire weekend. Our happiness was indestructible. The texts, calls, and Facebook comments and tweets of congratulations and happiness blew up our phones. Life was perfect.
Then, we started the 4-hour drive home on Sunday and I started thinking.
When I think, I overthink.
My mind wandered to a fellow teacher friend’s recent engagement, how her students started squealing once they spotted her ring, and how she was able to share her excitement with her students.
I can’t do that.
I have a very open and honest relationship with my students. I “keep it real” with them if they “keep it real” with me.
On the first day of school, two classes asked if I had a boyfriend. The answer was no. Two other classes asked if I was in a relationship. The answer was yes. Neither of these answers were lies.
If I come into school wearing an engagement ring, someone is going to put two and two together.
Normally, I would say screw it. It took me awhile to accept who I am, and I am proud to be an out, lesbian poet and blogger. In fact, if you Google me, that’s what comes up.
Yet… I’m hiding my engagement.
I love the diversity of my school. I have quite a number of students from varying cultural and religious backgrounds. And… a lot of students who have made it clear they don’t accept homosexuality. I have a Zero Tolerance policy in my classroom for name-calling and discrimination of any sort. I regularly have to fight against preconceived notions and ideas stemming from cultural and religious beliefs I know nothing about. For a lot of my students, any sexuality other than heterosexuality is a one-way ticket to Hell. My students and their families feel strongly about their beliefs, and I admire that. What I don’t admire is the power my students and their families unknowingly have over me.
I am a non-tenured first year teacher. If a parent or guardian calls to complain about the fact that a flaming homo is teaching his or her student, that goes on my permanent record. If I have any parent complaints on record, it affects my chance of having my contract renewed.
So, for the time being, I am silent.
I am wearing my engagement ring on a long chain around my neck and tucking it into my sweater every day before school. I am missing out on beaming and showing off my ring to my co-workers, and I cannot even honestly answer what I did this weekend.
I am choosing to go back into the closet after being out and comfortable with who I am for years simply so I do not have to worry about parental concerns that a lesbian cannot do a great job teaching their students about reading and writing.
I have a secret engagement.