I opened my facebook this morning to this:
“hi mr. witt, i cant wat till monday!!!!!!!! and its weard that a teacher has a facebook???????”
(from one of my sixth grade girls—doesn’t your heart melt at how wait and weird is spelled [let’s not look at the punctuation], as well as your brain cringe at our educational system)
I promptly screamed and asked one my friends who wasn’t yet a facebook friend to look up my page and see what parts of my profile were visible to people who weren’t friends. Turns out, all you can see is my main picture and an option to send me a message. I experienced a sincere heart-calming from near explosion moment, followed by a surprising damn it moment.
I seems I had the wherewithal when I set up my FB page to set the security level high. I had a very bad experience at one of my internships where a gay student found me on MySpace and sent me a message saying, “I knew you were gay! I knew you were gay! I knew you were gay!” Well, duh, kid, that ain’t news. I didn’t respond to him on MySpace, but told my supervisor and my student-teacher teacher about the email, and promptly had a huge meeting and then met with the kid and the school counselor. So glad it wasn’t turned into a big deal. Uh-huh.
I have mixed emotions around it all. If I were in high school, there is no doubt in my mind that I would be out to my kids, or at least not actively seek to hide it. Not that I hide it now, my Para and I have always talked about him in class, but kids tend to be oblivious when it concerns the teachers around them having an actual life. However, teaching 4th to 6th grade, it isn’t so clear-cut to me. I really would like it to be out in the open. All the teachers know, but it’s never been an issue with the kids. And when the kids bring up why I’m not married, well, I’ve had thirty years to perfect that blow-off answer, so no biggie. However, I remember how desperately I wanted to know someone else who was gay when I was a kid—younger than the kids I work with now. And I have kids that I know are gay, and I hate that I can’t be a mirror for them. I don’t want to have class about it or discuss sex or dating or anything with them, not appropriate—no more than if I was straight, that is. I don’t have the gay-agenda thing going on that so many of my dear fellow Christians say, but I do hate seeing children struggle in shame and loneliness when I know that I could change all that in an instant. However, I also know (and I know this sounds classist and elitist, and I don’t mean it too, but I’ve worked with this population for over a decade now and I know what I’m talking about) that the culture of my kids’ parents (for the most part) doesn’t have a paradigm for a gay man who isn’t a pedophile or cross-dresser [not that those are the same—as I have friends who cross-dress and none that molest children]. On a purely selfish note, I also know how my kids are and the things they say (or scream) when they are angry, and I really have had Faggot yelled in my face enough to last me a life-time, and I don’t want to hear it from my kids.
So, although this student (who I adore by the way) doesn’t yet realize that 80% of her teachers have a facebook page (I talk to some of them more on FB than I do when we are at school), she managed to scare her math teacher (yes, I teach math—yes, that is should be a crime—not my enjoying men, but my math skills) on a perfectly lovely Sunday morning. Also, she doesn’t realize how easy it would be to find out so much more about her short, red-headed, learning-elementary-math-right-alone-with-her, teacher with just a few more strokes of the keypad. Say, for instance, if she began to read Ramblings. Oh, lord. I am fairly certain this whole gay-teacher thing will come to the surface in the next year or two, how could it not, unless I was willing to lie blatantly or hide who I am, both of which I have done enough of, thankyouverymuch. Plus, I do need to give lessons to my gay kids before it’s too late. Little lesbians, lets talk about mullets, flannel, and power tools and how to avoid them. Little faggies, let’s talk about how you need to dog that’s a good cuddler, cause your gonna need him when the man you choose to spend your life with forgets your existence. And little transgender/transsexual boys and girls, that conversation will have to wait until you get in 7th grade. Mr. Witt ain’t touchin’ that one.