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March 23, 2023

Teaching While Queer: Brittany

Teaching While Queer: Brittany
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Host, Bryan Stanton (he/they) sits down with Brittany (she/her) a bisexual English teacher in North Texas. The two talk about bisexual identity, conservative outrage, and doxing. 

To be a guest or to hear more episodes visit www.teachingwhilequeer.com.

You can find host, Bryan Stanton, on Instagram.

Thank you for listening to this episode of Teaching While Queer Podcast! Please help support the podcast by leaving a review wherever you listen to the podcast. 

You can find host, Bryan Stanton, on Instagram.

Follow us on Instagram at @TeachingWhileQueer

To be a guest or to hear more episodes visit www.teachingwhilequeer.com.


Teaching While Queer with Brittany

Intro: [00:00:00] Teaching While Queer is a podcast for LGBTQIA+ teachers, administrators, and well anyone who works in academia to share their stories. Hi, my name is Bryan Stanton, a queer theater educator in San Antonio, Texas. Each week I bring you stories from around the world centered on the experiences of LGBTQIA+ folks in academia.

Thank you for joining me on this journey and enjoy Teaching While Queer..

Host: Hello everyone. Welcome back to another episode of Teaching While Queer. I am your host Bryan Stanton, and today I have the privilege to speak with Brittany. Hi Brittany. How are you doing? 

Brittany: Hi, I'm doing great.

Host: Awesome. So tell me a little bit about yourself. What do you teach, how you identify as part of the community?

Brittany: Awesome. Yes. Well, I teach 11th grade dual credit English, they're getting their college credit and high school credit at [00:01:00] the same time in the North Texas area. And I am actually a bisexual woman. I've known the majority of my life, but didn't really have the labeling until I was in college and beyond.

But I am also married to a straight man, so I don't always know how to present myself to other people if I should even present that information to people, if that's necessary or if it is necessary. It's kind of been my biggest struggle in life in general, but especially as a teacher 

Host: For sure. That's, it's an interesting dynamic and I love to see that there's become more bisexual and pansexual awareness.

 In the last few years about like, just because you're married to a man does not make you a heterosexual. 

Brittany: Yes. 

Host: And so, you said that you got to the terminology and kind of like probably self-identification later. So what was it like for you growing up? 

Brittany: Well, I grew up in a religious household pretty much in the age of four we started going to church.

So most of my memories have [00:02:00] church involved in some way, and that'll be the Christian Church and my parents. . I wouldn't say staunchly religious, like they're accepting of people. They love people, but it was always that like, how do I fit in this? I'm not sure. I always had those questions and I knew from a very young age that I found women attractive, but I didn't know what that meant or if that was a good or a bad thing.

I just knew it was there. And when I was a teenager, actually, Made out with a girl for the first and was like, okay, this is a real thing. This is not just me thinking girls are pretty, you know? And so I knew that, you know, inkling that interest was really always there. And I've always jokingly told people that I actually lean more toward the female side of the Kinsey scale, that I, that the female body.

Beautiful. And I love that. And I do love my husband. There are no questions there at all, but I definitely have a pretty good interest in both sides. And so what's really interesting is when I was younger, I had friends who [00:03:00] were gay or questioning, and this was back in the early two thousands, so it was still kind of, you didn't really talk about it as much back then, even with your friends.

, but I knew some people that, you know, were gay or questioning and. I was like, well that's interesting. Like I know that I'm not just interested in girls, so I kind of just pursued boys because they were easier to get, you know, attention from and . Also I just, I, you know, the boys made more sense cuz it's what I was presented with.

Right. But then I went off to a Christian university. A private school in Texas, and funnily enough, I got, you know, more queer there . You wouldn't expect that, but that is kind of how it worked. And I met some other friends. We created kind of like our own version of a GSA almost at this Christian school where we really built a family together.

We were all different layers of gay, trans or some other queer identify. Personality, I guess. And I started to realize that there was actually a name for what I [00:04:00] identify as that, you know, bisexual. I know we have pansexual now and some of the other umbrella terms that fall under that, but I feel like bisexual fits me the best and

I mean, I also like that flag the best. I think that's what people joke about is which colors do the best if you're pander by the funny jokes of the community. But I even feel like in talking with some of my friends who were lesbian or gay, who very seriously knew it was all or nothing for them on their attractive scale.

I was like, well, I don't fit there. And they didn't really get, when I would explain it, and even in talking with some of my straight friends, know people in the community, they still don't understand bisexuality either. I get a lot of the whole like, well, wouldn't you just cheat on your partner? Or Why are you married then?

Or so you're straight now cuz you married a guy. Or if I were with a girl, they would say, oh, are you a lesbian now? So even people that are a part of the community, or at least connected like an ally to the community in some way, still never really underst. And so now that I'm an adult, I [00:05:00] guess I've struggled not to embrace that.

I fully embrace that, that's my identity. But where do I choose to introduce that information? Because it's not always the first thing that comes up. I'm not with a woman or anything else. And should I tell people, ? That's been my struggle from teenagehood all the way up till now, even in my thirties, married and.

Host: Yeah, I can imagine. I think it's so interesting that there's such a strict dichotomy of labels where it's like, right, oh, well you could be bisexual while you're single, but as soon as you're in a relationship, you are a lesbian or you are heterosexual. And it's just so interesting that it's like nothing changed.

Brittany: Right.

Host: I'm still who I was before this relationship started.

Brittany: Yes. 

Host: Real quickly for the audience, I kind of wanna just dive into a little bit between the difference of bisexual and pansexual. 

Brittany: Sure. 

Host: Would you like me to explain that or would you like to go from your perspective? 

Brittany: I'm happy to explain. If you have a differing opinion, feel free to correct me or as an extra [00:06:00] nuance. But for me, the way I have perceived it from other people and just digging through my own self is so bisexuality you are attracted to both or more genders. Whereas pansexuality, the gender does not matter. And I, that sounds like the same thing to people that don't get the nuance.

But for me, like I will fall in love with the person, but I do like the aspect of whatever gender they present as like, I like the female body. I like the male body or wherever you fall in between or outside of that spectrum. And whereas people who I believe are pan don't care about that at all.

It is just the person, what you have does not matter. And so it's a very specific line, but I feel like it does create two separate sexualities that do deserve different. If you feel like that is a difference, you go right ahead. Add to that . 

Host: No, I think that's fantastic. Yeah. I think a simplistic way to explain it, maybe for folks like and it's different, I guess than what you [00:07:00] said subtly, but sometimes we have to baby step people in the conversations, right? 

Brittany: Yes. 

Host: And so like, if I were to explain this a little bit more, stepped back, is that bisexual people might be interested in male, female, and pansexual people might be interested in all people. But I really love the definition from your perspective, because I just thought it was so beautiful, like bisexual it's that the gender is important and pansexual is that it's not.

Brittany: Yeah. 

Host: I'm attracted to the female body. I'm attracted to the male body. or I'm just attracted bodies... 

Brittany: I also like to insert too, I sometimes feel like with bisexuality when we say the male or female body a lot of people fall into the trans exclusionary pattern where if I fell in love with the trans person, I don't think it would change my sexuality.

Because you know, they choose to present how they are or non-binary even. So sometimes I try to shy away from saying just female or male because a lot for lack of [00:08:00] a better word, TERF-y people like to use that as a definition to not accept and embrace trans people even while they are bisexual.

So I, I feel like there is a difference in that. So that's why I say two or more genders because I think. I don't think being bisexual excludes me from falling in love with a trans person if that were to present itself as an opportunity. And I really wanna caution people by using that terminology because some people do twist that little bit of wording into something it shouldn't be, which is unfortunate . 

Host: Right. And that's where I'm sitting here going right. Like, I think that your definition is really beautiful and I think it's different than what I had learned or rather experienced in, again, like a lot of our terminology, it comes from like straight white dudes, you know?

Brittany: Right, right. . Yeah. So like they're defining us and we are kind of like having to reshape what those definitions are. Absolutely. And so I really loved your take on it. Yeah. And I'm so glad that you were able to explain that because I think it's a beautiful. [00:09:00] explanation. Right. And I think that it's gonna open up some pathways for communication, I think, for people.

Host: Absolutely. So thank you so much for sharing that. So you mentioned your experience kind of got a little bit more exciting at your Christian university. And so you've had this kind of christian upbringing, which for some people is debilitating when it comes to also living a queer life. And then as adults, they're kind of having to struggle with the values in which they were raised and the values that they know for themselves to be true. So what do you think, what is your experience like as a queer educator? From the perspective of, you know, I grew up with these Christian values, but I'm also this bisexual person. 

Brittany: I will say it is tough and I think it is a very personal situation. Every single person that is religious that struggles with this, even outside of education, has kind of a different feel about it. There was a group on my campus, I'm trying [00:10:00] not to give specific details and give too much of my own identity away, but there was a group on my campus that was I wouldn't call it a conversion.

But it was a place for people to come who were gay, but maybe didn't want to live that way. And so it was their own voluntary going to this group and finding a support group of that variety that didn't quite feel authentic to me. So there are some people that definitely follow that path of I feel still more aligned to my religious beliefs.

And not that I don't, I do still attend church semi-regularly and I go to bible study every other week with my preacher and several people. And we've even talked about my identity in this Bible study, which is very scary. 

Host: Yeah. 

Brittany: But I'm very I will say I have some religious trauma from my upbringing, not just my parents, but just the environment kind of brings out with it sometimes, especially in the time where we didn't know as much as we do now about sexuality and fluidity and things of that nature.

But I will say that has been one of my bigger struggles and definitely struggles for [00:11:00] most people in my situation, is figuring out, well, where do I fall? And I don't wanna cherry pick my religion apart, but there are some people that also cherry pick the opposite side. They just pick one little Bible verse and they expand on it in a negative way.

My preacher calls them the clobber passages. You just clobber the Bible with these few passages on people of, not even just queer identities, but in general, anything that doesn't quite fit what we believe the church should be, we kind of beat them with them. Right. And I like that terminology, the clobber passages.

But now that I'm an educator it's, I feel like there's an even deeper layer to that is for me. Do I even tell them what my identity is? What is, what do I get out of that? What do they get out of that? I don't know if it's necessary, but I will also add my other layer is that I am the Gay Straight Alliance sponsor at my school.

So all of my students in my club do know my identity because I feel it's very important to be open with that. And we want to establish that safe space, that this place is where you can be yourself, even if you aren't [00:12:00] outside of my four walls. And some people may not like that depending where they fall on the political spectrum, put it that way.

But I think it's so important to provide that space. And while I think. Cis people can sponsor these organizations. They're just allies are just as important the cause. I think them knowing that I'm going through a similar situation as them of not being a hundred percent out with every person that I work with or live with is maybe even more encouraging cuz they know, like, you can choose to be out to level.

You want to be at whatever age you are and nobody, you don't owe anybody anything, if that makes sense. And so there are some people I work with or have worked with that. , there's a lot of people that don't. Just because that's my personal comfort level with it. And dealing with dealing with situations in the classroom where these conversations may come up.

Cuz sometimes teenagers wander into rabbit holes of topics like this. I kind of draw the line for me. , are we [00:13:00] discussing a topic or are we discussing people? And if we're talking about something in a way where even if we come away disagreeing, can we still understand the other side? I think that's just good advice for life, but especially in the classroom when you're still formulating who you are, tr and 11th grade is such an interesting time cuz they really are starting to like pay attention to the world around.

They of course, have grown up in an environment where they've kind of been told what to think, and now they're getting closer to thinking for themselves of the future, what do I wanna do? Where do I wanna go from here? And this is the time of age, at least now it seems like where I live and work, that students are becoming more out and more open about talking about their sexuality.

So they're exposed to other students more often than maybe in the past. And so if it crosses a line into insult, kind of judging people for their life. I'm never okay with that. And just a personal conversation or in the classroom conversation. And so that's kind of where I draw the line. Are we talking about topics or are we talking about people?

And if we're talking about people, are we doing it in a way that is respectful and learning from those [00:14:00] people or tearing those people down? Because I'm not gonna let you make fun of my autistic students either. I'm not gonna let you make fun of my students. Maybe the quiet and shy ones were my students with an accent because they learned a different language first.

Like it's the same concept to me. Even if I were not on the queer spectrum, I still feel like I would definitely align with that. I think it's important to respect who people are, even if you're not sure about it or if you don't get it or if you don't. Accept it. We'll put it that way. And I feel like usually when it happens that way, students understand where that line is.

I do a good job of building those relationships and creating it in a safe environment kind of way. So they're able to talk about those things if they come up. Of course, I don't tell kids what to think, I don't just start those conversations, but sometimes they come up and we're gonna talk about 'em however you feel we need to, and if it goes too far, then we'll wrap it up and move on.

But yeah, . . 

Host: Yeah, I think that's really beautiful what you said about, are we talking about a topic or are we talking about people? Because I think that a lot of times it's [00:15:00] so easy, especially in a digital world, to lose our humanity because we're talking about people, but we might think we're talking about a topic. Especially behind a screen, right? 

Brittany: Absolutely.

Host: It's so easy to see what you want about being to tear people down. But in fact, like if we can make that distinction of like, here's how we talk about topics, here's how we talk about people and we can just kind of get that understanding I think it brings a little bit of humanity back into our discourse.

Brittany: Right. Absolutely. 

Host: Because a lot of rhetoric is right now, at least in the world is really about tearing people down. Which is really unfortunate. You had mentioned in your pre-show survey that you had to review some books that were being contested at your school.

Brittany: Yes. 

Host: Can you tell me a little bit about that? 

Brittany: Sure. So toward the end of last school year, it was April or May, they needed another person on the district committee that reviews books when parents or teachers challenge them. [00:16:00] And being an English teacher, the librarian reached out to me. So I said, sure, why not?

I didn't even know what the books were yet. There were two books in particular. One was. about a gay boy in high school who there was kind of a dual plot line. The first one first half of the book, it kind of talks about these advice emails He writes to students that are about a variety of topics.

Some of them happen to be about gay relationships, but a lot of 'em are about, like, you don't have to say you love somebody as a teenager or you don't have to say with someone if they treat you poorly. It was actually some really good nuggets of information. And then I will say some of the scenes in the book are a little.

There's some sexually explicit things. And I even said in my review of this particular book that all the people on the committee thought some of the things this teenager does is something students should not do. Like meeting up with someone on Tinder or Grindr, I think specifically is what it was in the book.

And I would never recommend any teenager do that, period, the end. And I even say that in my video that we all felt very concerned about those parts of the books, but the rest of the book follows this kind of mystery [00:17:00] plot line where somebody starts leaving threatening. In his locker. And the principal and teachers and adults really aren't believing him because he's seen as this promiscuous kind of bad kid.

And those kinds of storylines happen where maybe someone's bullying you for your identity or just the way you act and your personality and sometimes the people who are in charge who should help you don't step in. We see that in a lot of different ways. Right? And so we thought there were some valuable pieces of the book worth keeping.

but we all agreed to move the book into a section of circulation where you have to run it by the librarian first. So tell you what the book's about, really only checking it out to the upper grades. It's not even available below ninth grade to begin with. And it had only been checked out four times and then five years it's been in our entire district and there's more than one high school.

And so we thought the Hold on. So we thought the negative impact of this book, I should say wasn't as big of a deal. So let's move it to a spot. If someone wants to check it out, let's see if they're mature enough to handle it. If not, move on the [00:18:00] second book. Was not even about a queer student at all.

It had to do with a girl who was with her first boyfriend and they, there's one explicit scene in it that wasn't that big a deal, but she ends up getting pregnant after he breaks up with her and she actually goes through having an abortion. Well, this conservative group found my video months later.

Months later. It was like the beginning of August. They found this video, and I didn't say my district name in it. I didn't say, Anything super identifying? I was just explaining the process of how we reviewed it, how we met, how we chose to move these books into a different area of circulation but not get rid of them completely.

Because some students are able to handle those things and there may be valuable things for a certain group of kids. So banning that book wasn't necessary. . Well, this group found it chopped up. My video only focused on the first book and only focused on the quotes they found online with the sexually explicit graphic information.

And I had mentioned I was the GSA sponsor, nothing about my own sexuality naturally. But they saw that I was the GSA sponsor. I was invited to [00:19:00] be a part of this committee. and that I was biased toward voting to keep this book. And they put my full name, my district, and my school. In the video, it was on TikTok, it was on Facebook, Instagram, they had a Twitter, but by that point it was suspended.

And if it was anywhere else, I chose not to look any farther, like my heart is pounding now, just on my kind of sweating, just remembering this, because it was literally the. School or in service was so right before school started, this is all happening. I'm supposed to be getting ready for a new school year and this is happening to me and I don't wanna go to like my principal or someone cuz like it's a TikTok thing.

Like that sounds like this is, it's not even actually identifying anything. But they chose to identify me and spend their time searching all of the teachers across the state of Texas to find out who I was. And can you imagine if my sexual identity were available, which became another fear cuz. , they're watching my videos clearly.

So they shared this one. I was nervous about it. TikTok took it down immediately. They took down the [00:20:00] entire account which was incredible, within like 10 minutes. But Facebook and Instagram both came back and said it didn't violate any of their community standards, which is insane to me. Because it's my name, it's where I work.

Somebody could show up if they wanted to in the middle of a school day and threaten the environment. Not just my own sanity and my mental health, but like they could actually show up if they wanted to, right? , and it's a page that doesn't have that many followers. And my video didn't even have that many views to begin with, but it's just the thought that somebody has the time and the energy to do that to another person.

Not even that many students have checked the book out. They weren't even that interested in it, . So the things we shift our priorities to just boggles my mind, I guess, in that regard. But then about two days later, they shared another video from my TikTok page. And at that time I had not changed any of my information yet cause I was still kind of reeling from the situ.

and this one was a joking video, which now looking back, maybe I shouldn't have done it, but everything's hindsight. I was going to June [00:21:00] Pride here in North Texas and some students wanted to go, so I was like, well, we can ride the train together. I'm fine with that. Like, it's not like a school event, but if you're going we'll just ride together so you're safe.

Well, they didn't end up coming and so I made a goofy video cuz I knew they would see it because my students always share videos like that. I made a funny video on the train with the All By Myself song in the background of me just writing the Train to Pride event by myself. And then somebody on that same group reposted it saying I groomed children.

I am like setting them up to, I don't know, become gay, I'm whatever else, because they knew I was the GSA sponsor already. And at that point I was like, all right, they are now tar. They are purposefully watching my stuff. And at the time I did have a couple of video. Where I was wearing maybe a shirt or something that if you knew where I worked, you could figure it out.

So I took all of those down, moved them all to private, anything that had like my full name in it. I moved it to private to the best of my ability. I changed my whole name on Instagram and [00:22:00] on TikTok to be two completely different names, and like. I know at the end of the day, is social media that important?

No, but I built such a great community of teachers and I also talk about book content naturally. So I made a bunch of book talk friends too, and I didn't wanna lose that community that I had built. And so I was like, well, lemme try this option. And I've seen nothing since. But like how terrifying is that to have your livelihood almost at risk?

And my character called into judgment because I would never, in my wildest dreams wanna do that to a kid. But just the fact that people equate the two, grooming a child to just. not even being gay or queer, but just being the sponsor of kids that need that safe space to be who they are. Like, that's just mind boggling to me.

I just, it did like, I'm shaking like it just, it, I don't know. , I'm rambling now. 

Host: I totally get that. I had some elements of that experience in my previous district. And what was most frightening for me is that I [00:23:00] live in this district. 

Brittany: I live across the highway. I live closer than most of my students from my school.

Host: I live one block away from my daughter's elementary school, and these folks were saying things like, we need to get that fag out of the school. And in that's the part that's like, one of the primary reasons I left and went to a different school district is because I needed to separate myself from the situation to ensure that my children stayed safe.

Brittany: Right. 

Host: So I totally get you're sitting there saying like, Not only do I need to make sure I'm safe and my family's safe, but like, your children need to be safe. These people can show up at my school. And you're a hundred percent correct because, you know, history has shown us over the past two or three decades that , it's. disgruntled white people with a big opinion or disgruntled white men with a big opinion that feel like they can walk into a school and just shoot people. 

Brittany: Right.

Host: And it's frightening. I've, I was. I made a joke with my mom the other day because [00:24:00] my husband is going, is looking to go into the police academy, he is one of those people like myself, like we moved to Texas and we're like, we'll help fix the problems from within. You know, us little peons. But he is like, you know, I really want to do this and I really want to be like that queer police officer who, you know, at least could be a positive impact. in whatever way I can, and I fully support him in that. And my mom was like, it's so dangerous. And I was like, mom, if he becomes a police officer the danger of our two jobs is gonna be pretty similar. I mean, a lot of the gun violence, yes, it's happening in domestic violence situation. Yes, there are police officers being killed, but also the mass shootings are happening on campuses more and more frequently. 

Brittany: Correct. 

Host: And so it's just, it's wild to think about that idea that, oh, we are gonna do this, it's called doxing, right? On the social media. Where they take your personal information and they share it everywhere. Yeah. And it literally is putting people's lives in danger. [00:25:00] And the reality is that the people doing this have no consideration for the collateral damage that could happen that other people who are going to be impacted by it. And it's just, it's wild. 

Brittany: And because Facebook and Instagram, to my knowledge, still haven't taken it down. And I had friends mass reporting it like my husband was reporting it. My friends were people that work with me and don't work with me we're reporting it. And they still weren't taking it down. Everyone was getting the same message. So like those videos are out there with my name on them and people were even tagging my district social media in them. I never saw it to my knowledge, but I had my, you know, Not union rep cuz it's Texas, but my organization rep ready to go cuz I was so afraid someone was gonna approach me and the week you're supposed to be getting refreshed and ready to get back in the classroom.

And I was so excited to start this year off cuz the class I'm teaching, this is now my fourth year, I'm like in my groove. I'm like feeling good. And my former teachers that taught these kids last year, they're like, they're the best group I've ever had. I was ready [00:26:00] and it just shot everything. And I feel like I've been running on empty since like, every ounce of excitement I had for the year.

And of course, you know, I've still built relationships with students. I still am the GSA sponsor. I'm not gonna let this scare me away from anything, but it's still a reality I have to think about. And it just, you know, I was ready to go and it just kind of cut me off with the knees before we even got started.

And you know, some, most of my students know it happened cuz my name is now different. They're like, why is your name different? I can't find you on anything cuz you know, I don't post anything that's inappropriate because my students watch it. And if it was InApp, Somebody would've said something before now, and I actually was asked to take one TikTok down because I kind of had some negative tone in it.

I wasn't cussing nothing bad, but my principal's like, Hey, maybe take this one down. So like I know that people in my school building are watching them and nobody said anything about any other videos, and so like to take something that's been up for months didn't even have that much attention and turn it into something completely unnecessary.

and it's just crazy. And I think I've been trying to think about how they even found me months later and went [00:27:00] through all my videos to find that. Cause I pulled quite a few videos regularly. But I think I commented on a video that went to the wrong side of TikTok and it was a teacher talking about supporting gay students.

And I was like, you know, you're doing the good work. We need teachers like you. And I think somebody was mad at that, just followed my name, and then just scrolled through all my videos till they found what they were looking for. And at the time what's crazy? I can't believe this one wasn't reposted. I don't wanna look to see if it is

No. But I had those two videos I mentioned, but I had a video from walking in that Pride parade with the by pride flag around my neck on my TikTok with follow Your Arrow by Casey Mara's in the background, cuz that's one of my favorite songs. So I have an arrow on my arm and like they didn't repost that.

or maybe they just didn't get it. Maybe they didn't understand what the flag was. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise, but it was posted the same day as the one of me on the train by myself because it was at the same event. And so like the picking and choosing, like, what are we doing? I privated all of those things cuz yes I don't wanna put myself in that, you know, position.

[00:28:00] So I don't know. It's just crazy. I couldn't imagine going to somebody's, you know, Facebook and printing all this stuff and doing whatever, like if you're actually threatening to hurt someone, that's a different thing. Of course. But this is not that and it just upsets me so much that people wanna jump to that conclusion when they actually didn't even know my sexuality on top of that.

Like, imagine if they knew everything about me or if I was like, I had a wife or a girlfriend and it was more obvious. , how much more dangerous that could even be in Texas. 

Host: Oh yeah, I agree. And that the wild thing is that you, and you mentioned this, a leader or somebody high up in a conservative hate group did this. It may not even have been people that are in your community. 

Brittany: They're not. I figured out who it is actually. It's a college student. At a specific school, but I don't wanna make it too easy to track down. I figured out who the person was that runs the organization where she goes to school. But did I post it? No. And [00:29:00] then she has a bunch of people following her, of course, but like, not a lot, not as many followers as I have. But it is like, it's crazy to myself, the college student. So like, you're in your twenties and you have the time to do this. I didn't have that much time in college. 

Host: right. I was studying, what the heck so let's talk about your experience working with queer students. What is that like for you? 

Brittany: I love it. I love being that person for them. I have a lot of students, like my room is the only place that they're out. And I feel like our group, it varies in size. How many people come? We meet right now every other week, but next year I think we're gonna meet every week just to be more consistent.

But I. , even if I were straight, I feel like I'd still have that soft spot for them because people like to assume a lot of things when that's not it at all. Like we're not all just broken, like mentally, you know, unstable people. We may come with those sometimes , but that's not the indicative of someone who is queer or trans identifying and being [00:30:00] able to be that voice.

Most people see me as a straight passing person. I feel actually kind of carries a little bit more weight with it. Because my students at least know my room is not the place to make those comments. Like I said before, if they start dipping their toe into being, you know, judgemental or insulting or any level of rude to another student, especially about that, they know my room is not that place and not that I'm gonna like, you know, get the same way with them and blah, blah, blah, but.

they know that those people are safe. I've done the little survey at the beginning of the year where it's optional. They can say what their pronouns are. Am I allowed to call you that at home? Am I allowed to call you that? Outside of the classroom, what do you prefer to go by? And most students even if they don't put anything in the pronoun section, they'll still put a nickname or some other thing at the top.

And I feel like some of the things we're talking about, people aren't considering the widespread ramifications. Like if you have to report every name you tell, like call a kid. I have students who have really long names that go by short names. I have people that go by their middle names. So where are we gonna draw this line of [00:31:00] what name?

Like my mom goes by a shortened version of her middle name. But when she was a kid, she went by her first name and a shortened version of her first name. So it was to say her identity changed. Like, you know, it's just so funny to me that that's what people want to raise their arms about. Like for instance, my name is Britney.

Well, growing up in the two thousands, I had at least one girl named Brittany in every class, and I've worked with multiple Brits at jobs before, so I always went by bee like a bumblebee and like in high school and in college, and even when I worked at Disney World for a year, my name was B, not Britney, because there were too many around and like.

how is that any different than just going by a different name at school or even in every aspect of your daily life, which really is the only difference you need to care about when someone's trans, and maybe they're pronouns, but you can just say their name if the pronoun confuses you, you know, . Like it's not that hard.

Host: Yeah, absolutely. And it's so interesting to me because there's all these things that we [00:32:00] do just naturally in life that are right. They're centered around our identity, but like for some reason people are hung up on this. Like, if this normal thing that people do, like, call me by this name. , this nickname or this other name this is a normal thing that lots of people do, but if it's somehow tied to your gender, it's like a huge problem.

Brittany: I think even growing up I tried to have like 15 different nicknames cuz I wanted to be special. Like I went by Brit for a long time and my family called me Brat. And then I went by my middle name, which was Michelle. That's, I don't think that's too identifying very common names. , I was like, I wanted it to be Emmy and then I wanted to be Mitchy and then I wanted to be all these different names, which is, There's too many things to begin with.

But where, like, where do I throw the stone at someone else first when it's just a nickname, essentially, at the end of the day, it's just a name You wanna call yourself . 

Host: Yep. I agree entirely. My cousin is a Brittany. We're around the same age. So I assume that there was just a big onslaught of Britney during that time.

Brittany: Oh, yes. Yes.[00:33:00] 

Host: And we used to call her Brat-ney. So, yes.. But let's talk a little bit about your experience and you may have already covered this honestly in our conversation about, you know, talking about topics versus people , but have you ever had an experience where someone in your class or maybe a parent has just like, actually in your community as opposed to being doxed, has been really vocal about being against the LGBTQ community and how would you respond to that?

Or how do you respond to that with your students? 

Brittany: So, in general. I can't say that I've had enough where I needed to bring it up with students, I should say. But personal reaction, so I teach high school now, but for three years in this same district, I taught middle school and we had some students express interest in starting a pride club is what we called it then.

Which really the intention was to focus on aspects of diversity and equity, and a lot of our students just happened to be some layer of [00:34:00] LGBTQ+. And so that kind of became some of our focuses and. Our principal was very outspokenly against it. But naturally we had a little bit of the ACLU wording on our side to protect us that it's outside of school hours.

The students kind of decide what they do. So it's all student led. We're just there to make sure we're not doing anything unsafe or excuse me, anything like that. And we started. part of the way through my second year at that middle school. And then we had it running the full third year before I left.

And honestly, that's the reason I left because I, I learned a lot about my admin leadership at the time. And we had one AP who was very much for us. He was our ally. He was there to help us. He would sometimes come to meetings just to focus head in, and he was straight and married to a woman. But he just valued people in the community enough to say, you're important to protect.

But then he left. And I felt like it became a little bit more hostile. The students wanted to do a little bit more out of our classroom and he was not [00:35:00] okay with that. He is very much a red supporter. Everyone in the school knew it. His Facebook profile page had all the banners of 2016 and 2020 very publicly posted, which I just find mind boggling considering he's known as an educator. It was to the point where I no longer felt comfortable working for that kind of person, and that's why I left. Because. You know, I loved the students there. I loved what I taught. I like middle school. I'm crazy. I actually really liked middle school. I also taught elementary for a year and they were a little too young for me.

But middle school I felt like was fun cuz they kind of still like school, but they're kind of figuring out who they are. It was a nice middle spot. Right. I do love high school. They're, they are my sweet spot now that I'm here and have been here for a while. But I really enjoyed middle school and it was a very hard decision to.

But now I've actually taught a handful of my students again every year because now they've grown up and some of them go to my school now. So it's kind of fun to see them grown up and, you know, thinking on their own and all the good things. But yeah, [00:36:00] I guess that's the only real example I'd say of pushback specifically in regards to the LGBTQ plus community where I felt I was no longer in a place where I should stay there like I did not that I felt it was unsafe, it wasn't quite that bad, but I definitely felt like if anything were to happen, he would not back us. He would not support us. He would not do anything to protect our kids. It was very common that kids would call it like the fag club or things like that, and.

We kind of make fun of kids that went, so a lot of kids wouldn't wanna go cause they wouldn't, obviously wouldn't wanna be judged for that. I haven't really heard as much of that at our school now which is nice. I feel like high schoolers also kind of don't care about that as much now. Like, I have some gay friends, I have some friends.

If I don't get it, I don't get it. There we go. I feel like that is, for the most part, at least around adults, that's the way I kind of see it crumbling at the moment. cookie cr. . But I have had some other instances with other political things come up where kids like posted certain things about me because of texts we read in class.

I didn't even [00:37:00] pick, they were from our district textbook, which is so funny. But yeah, kids saying that like, I hate cops and I. And like super liberal. And you know, I wouldn't say it's quite that extreme. I'm not gonna disparage every person in every profession. Right. Especially not in my own profession, cuz why would I put that up for jeopardy there?

But I definitely could understand how. even scarier it would be if someone were to attack me from my specific identity, which is why I'm kind of, you know, like in the middle ground of out is what I like to call it. Some people know, some people don't. If you figure it out, great. If you don't, great.

Cause I have some students every year that do figure it out and I won't like be obvious, but when I like look at them, they can be like, okay. and now I get what's going on. And so like, it's not like if a kid says something, I'm not gonna be like, Nope, I'm straight. I'm not ever gonna just like correct a kid cuz it's not true.

I don't wanna lie to kids, but I don't a advertise it either. And so, I don't know, I hope I never have to deal with something where it's [00:38:00] literally tied to me. I says you're eight total now, so I don't know, knock on wood, . But. . That answered your question . 

Host: It sure does. There's quite a bit that we've talked about today that I find is kind of, it's universal.

I'm seeing it happening. All over the country, unfortunately. And one of the things that I experienced was like a conservative group putting in formal information requests with the school district asking like, who runs the GSA? It's so interesting because you're right, there are some protections we have with, you know, after school organizations, the extracurricular part of school, and yet we're still a part target for providing that. And I think the other huge thing right now is this idea that we're "grooming" children and the reality is these children are a part of the community. We're just making sure they survive high [00:39:00] school or literally survive.

Brittany: Sometimes it is that serious for some of these kids if they feel like they have no place to go.

And even, sorry to interrupt, but even my students who either be questioning or it may even be out, but they don't wanna come to our group for whatever reason. I've heard a lot of students even say, just knowing that it exists at our school, like makes such a difference to them just to know there is a place they could go if they wanted to or needed to.

And that's so important. Like I just don't understand why people disparage that. Like if you don't get it or approve of it or whatever, that's on you, but you don't have to come, your kid doesn't have to come. It's just a place for someone to. Sit there and be accepted and loved by someone for who they are, and just being so upset about that upsets me.

like I'm just giving kids the love they need. They may be starved for that love because maybe at home it's not okay. Or even if it is okay at home, just knowing a different adult is like gonna [00:40:00] support them either way. What is wrong with that? 

Host: Literally having one supportive adult in your life can save your life. And so it's so frustrating that it's like in my brain, I'm just like, live and let live. Come on. And for other folks, it's like, no, you must always do what we want you to do. And I'm just like, if we did the same things, if we turn the tables and we're like, You're all gay now. You know, there would be a huge uproar, and I'm just like so confused about why people think this is okay.

Brittany: And there's anyone in the community that wants to do that. Either. Like, we don't want you to be gay. You're good. Like, Do what you wanna do. That's the whole point. Like . 

Host: Yeah. Just live your life. And it's just so funny especially cuz I think we're in Texas, right? And the South is known for quote unquote, "wanting to focus on small government" and whatnot, but they also want the government to stay out of their house.

Brittany: Right? But then they only want the like the government to [00:41:00] interfere on the things that they don't like. 

Host: Right. Okay. And it's so interesting because you had mentioned that you had administrator who was like, you know, the banners from 2016 and 2020 were all over their social media, and I was like, oh, the fire that would be raised if that same thing were happening for more liberal politics. 

Brittany: Right. And just to provide some context for that, I worked at a school that was like, I believe 72% Hispanic that year. Oh gosh. And he was walking through the halls very excited and I had a student of this variety white for those listening that like marched around my room singing "Feliz Navi-wall". Like how is that okay? You have fostered an environment where that is acceptable. Where I have students crying in one class because they don't know what the future means now because their family is brown versus this [00:42:00] white kid was so excited because a wall that has nothing to do with us, which already exists by the way. Been a fence there for a while, you know, sort of thing. It's just mind boggling. I've said mind boggling a lot. I feel like it's a good drinking game for this episode. 

Host: This is my favorite part about podcasting is to count how many times I say the word wild or I love that . Alright, we're gonna go ahead and start wrapping it up. So I've got two kind of final questions for you. The first one is, if you The opportunity to speak with a new educator. They're getting in ready for their first year teaching and they're not sure whether or not to be their authentic self in the classroom. What kind of advice would you give them?

Brittany: I will always say, figure out the environment you're in first. If you work in Texas. I don't think anybody should have to stifle their identity, but I would definitely just be aware of what's out there. Right. Because it would be a horrible first year experience to, you know, come out swinging with your full identity and then have that kind of [00:43:00] backfire in a way you weren't prepared for. I would always tiptoe in anything, honestly, anything identity wise, just tiptoe in, figure out who around you. Like what do they think, what do they feel? Because I would not want anyone to feel like they are genuinely unsafe in their job. And there are some people I talk to online, even in Texas or even in other states that do feel that way.

They do not feel like it is safe to be their authentic self. So I would never want someone to feel like they have to hide who they. But just be careful. Just pay attention to where you live, where you work, and if you feel like it is okay. Again, the tiptoeing to come out to a couple of people.

People that you develop relationships with, that you work with, have that close group of people first that you can talk to when it's too hard. Or even people outside of your school who identify similarly can be such a huge help because you're able to discuss some of the concerns you may have or just issues you need to navigate in that part of life.

But I would, I just would really hate for somebody to be put in a [00:44:00] position of judgment or being unsafe for people. Taking them away from their time needed to dedicate to their job to focus on that. But if you are in a place like a state where it is, you know, gungho, do you, or you know, that you are protected under that state's law as your union, be yourself absolutely. Because I think students need to see that if you feel like you, you need to, you know, section. The full part of your identity. I still think there is no shame in being open that you support that group of students because they exist everywhere. They exist everywhere. And they may not be saying it, but they're there.

And I can't tell you how many students Especially, I think non-binary is one I've seen really latch on to a lot of this lately of they, them. And seeing teachers actually respecting that has been kind of honestly life changing for them. So don't hide everything. Do show that you at the very least, support students in that community in some [00:45:00] way or fashion, even if it's on a one-to-one level.

Like if a student confides in you, yes, let them support them. If you feel safe to tell them who you are, do so, but I just don't want anyone to put them in a position where somebody could just make their job harder. I don't know if that's maybe what some people wanna hear, but it's the reality some of us face, unfortunately tiptoe in, I think is the best advice I would give. Feel it out first. Don't jump in the deep end. Just immediately yet. 

Host: I agree. I think that knowing your circumstances, knowing your surroundings and then kind of feeling it out from there. For me, I'm in a different situation. I have children, and so I don't expect them to lie, so I'm not gonna lie.

Brittany: Right.

Host: And so I've had to deal with some pushback and some negative situations. And so if you are not ready, or I mean, quite literally, if you're not interested in dealing with the negative crap, like sometimes it's okay to just [00:46:00] be a teacher at school, right? I always say that teachers are the best actors that anybody's ever met because students think they knew who we are, but they have no idea. 

Brittany: I let you know what I want you to know. 

Host: Exactly. Like we're building a relationship. So you're gonna know what it's like to work with me in this classroom. But you don't know what it's like for me on a Saturday night or you know, even just an evening. I'll share that I'm watching this TV show because my students are watching it, but I don't share every TV show I'm watching with my students. , like there are boundaries that happen. Because that's the world we live in. 

And the final question for today. . This is a little bit of a research I'm doing for a conference I'll be speaking at in March, and it is centered on the idea of inclusivity.

So the question itself is, for our queer teachers out there and our allies, what can we do to help move the needle towards [00:47:00] inclusivity for our students who are LGBTQ? 

Brittany: I've been thinking about this question since you prepped it at the beginning. I think just the first step is to show that there are supportive educators. And every educator may not feel that way, but some do. Some are here, whether they're a queer or not. There are adults in your school building who are able to provide you a place to come, at the very least, confide in them if needed. Because there are some places where it doesn't feel like that. And I think as far as wide scale change, man, I think every state's got a different kind of battle. I feel like here in Texas. I think we're kind of following the blueprint of some other states lately. That makes me really nervous. 

Host: Especially with some stuff that was recently passed just last week in Tennessee. 

Brittany: Tennessee and then last month with bookshelves in [00:48:00] Florida, and I think even that was Tennessee too. It's, I don't know. I feel like I should have a better answer, but if I knew that answer, I mean, we could all feel safe being out and proud students, teachers are otherwise I don't know.

I think, if not during our contract hours, at the very least, showing up when these things are on the docket, when these discussions are happening at the legislator level or even just at the personal level when you hear people in your town talking about it. Just explain that those students exist so that they understand the real people they may be impacting.

Because nine, like 90% of the time, people's minds change when they have a personal connection to the issue, right? Not always. But most of the time when you see enough personal connections, family, friends, people you work with that identify a certain way, or at least our allies of the community it just makes you go, [00:49:00] oh, these are real people in my life.

So again, kind of talking about topics versus talking about people. You're no longer just talking about this abstract thought of this is just what people are doing. Right. Like for instance, I have a student, he moved to a different city in Texas over a Christmas break, but he has been in GSA since freshman year. He has Tourettes some very like vocal and physical. That I have seen diminish greatly over the last three years of having just a comfortable place to be. The student became very involved in theater. He has been on t since sophomore year, and he finally got his real name in the yearbook last year for the first. His ID had his real name on it this year. Obviously legal paperwork has not changed at this time, but every single person I know knew that kid by his real name and real gender or I guess[00:50:00] gender presentation. I was so blown away that so many kids really didn't care. Some of them didn't even realize.

And so kids were like, oh yeah, the trans kid. I'm like, well, let's not identify someone that way. But technically, yes. And he's okay with people knowing that. And they're like, really? I had no idea. Like, that's insane. These kids don't even know. And they're cool with it. They're like, oh, wow, that's cool. Amazing what those little things can do. So now those kids have been I don't like the word exposed. Those kids have now met someone and lived their life with someone who is trans and identifies as their true, authentic self. And the fact that people in, in other states, and even potentially here maybe soon, wanna take that opportunity away from those kids where I've seen the genuine change in those kids the ability to cope with his own actual disability of Tourettes and the life changing impact of people, if not supporting, at least, [00:51:00] like, just calling you what you wanna be called was just incredible. I've never seen anything like that.

Nobody questioned him. Nobody talked bad about him. Nobody that I at least had face-to-face interaction with, even at the staff level. And that was just one kid. Like, can you imagine like some kids don't get that opportunity because their parents aren't supportive or they're just not at the level of telling their parents yet that this was a mom fully supportive, like Mama Bear would go to the depths for this kid, and I saw what that does. And there are people that think that those are abusive parents. Are you kidding? Like . I just, I don't have children of my own, so I still don't think, even if I did, I would ever get that idea like a parent loving their kids so much. And it's t it's not surgery.

There's been nothing irreparable done yet, and that's just what they like. They like to use that word when it's such a simple thing. [00:52:00] Call their name, call 'em what they wanna be. I think if we have more educators and more students that see that and are willing to just love on people no matter what, that's the first step I think in creating lasting change and showing re.

As much as we can and the ways that we can when certain things are passed or even discussed I think is important. I don't know how long it will take, but I hope not As long as it looks like . I feel like it's got a little hopeless there at the end. 

Host: Well, yeah, it's a really trying time because I feel like we're taking giant leaps backwards as opposed to baby steps backwards because we've got like anti- drag bills. We've got anti- gender affirming care bills, not just for children. For like adults. 

Brittany: Adults. Like how do you have the right to make my own decisions. 

Host: Yes. So wild. Yeah. But. We can be present and we can be here to support those students. 

Brittany: Yeah, that's the first step in any of [00:53:00] it. 

Host: Yep. Hey Brittany, thank you so much for your time today, and thank you for everybody who joined us on this episode of Teaching While Queer.

Brittany: Thank you. 

Outro: Thank you for joining me for this week's episode of Teaching While Queer. If you haven't done so already, please consider. Subscribing on your favorite RSS feed and sharing the podcast with your friends and family. New episodes will come out every other week during the school year. If you're interested in joining us on this Teaching While Queer podcast, please email us at teachingwhilequeerpodcast@gmail.com.

Have a great day.



Brittany (she/her) is a Dual Credit English teacher in the North Texas area who sponsors her high school's Gay Straight Alliance.