Forced Out: The Exodus of Teachers Facing Anti-LGBTQ+ Laws

Teaching is seen as one of the noblest professions in the world. Educators work tirelessly to shape young minds into sharp thinkers that will create a better future. What could be more rewarding than having a hand in cultivating a better tomorrow?

Pulling Back

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While there are plenty of benefits to working in education, the field also comes with more than enough drawbacks. Teachers often work over their contracted hours without compensation, whether through lesson planning or grading papers.

A Dark Horizon

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However, a new threat is emerging in the education system, and it is scaring off educators left and right. Many teachers are leaving their jobs to work in different sectors due to the harsh politics that are policing the classroom.

No Safe Space

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With the rise of bills erasing LGBTQ+ rights for youths, schools often become the punching bag for these conversations. In some states, students are not allowed to use different names or pronouns that differ from their birth certificate.

Not Out and About

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Additional legislation against the queer community involves outing kids. School staff members are now required in some states to report to parents if kids mention being LGBTQ+. There is also a wave of politicians banning queer literature from being available in public systems.

Watch Your Step

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The toll of this weighs heavily on students, but is also being felt by the adults in the schools. Queer staff and allies are uncomfortable being placed into a role of silence and draconian rule. It impacts their ability to teach, feeling like anything spoken out of turn could invite backlash. 

Tensions Get Tenser

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With nearly ten states barring diversity conversations and 20 possibly moving forward with anti-queer bills, it’s no mystery. Teachers are overworked, underpaid, and now overwhelmed with sifting through political landmines.

What Do We Value?

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Many of these states are also actively working on developing bills that will prohibit gender affirming care, effectively robbing trans people of life-saving medical services. Much of the decisions to do so are thanks to staunch adherence to traditional Christian values.

Research Shows

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A recent study interviewed over 80 queer faculty members to evaluate how schools are adjusting to freshly minted laws. Many of the participants are employed at state-funded universities, and their responses are far from encouraging.

Shrinking Communities

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Of those in the study, many reported that efforts to dismantle DEI offices and events have negatively impacted their work environment. The consequences not only restrict the content they teach, but also discourage the fostering of community amongst those on campus.

Living Under the Gun

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For those participants who are actively engaged in DEI work, prospects have taken a deeper toll. Nearly 10% have noted pushback from both administration and students, frequently coupled with legal threats for violating new state laws.

Teaching Harassment?

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In cases of harassment, the research project had no shortage of stories to tell. Overall, one in five faculty members mentioned a sense of apprehension on bringing up LGBTQ+ issues in a supportive manner.

Dark State of Mind

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Unsurprisingly, navigating these complexities add up over time. Just under 75% of all involved in the study mentioned that their mental health has taken a turn for the worst. In fact, a majority mentioned searching for career opportunities elsewhere.

Fighting Back

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There are a brave few who stand boldly in the face of this oppression. Around 33% felt that the tightening grip has moved them, motivating their efforts to push for inclusivity. These staff members have doubled down and taken to being more active in campus politics.

No Cover in the Field

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And while there are those who nobly fight for what they believe in, it surely is not without consequence. Engagement in such activities places these staff members in a precarious situation, one that could expedite firing processes by fear-mongering administrators.

Legal Labyrinths 

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Laws like the ones plaguing LGBTQ+ individuals are still in their infancy, and still have the chance to be contested in court. However, depending on the state, drawn out legal battles could be more or less fruitless in their final outcome.

Quieting Queer Research

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Based on present circumstances, experts predict a hairy fate for gay rights within the higher education system. Analysts from the survey suggest that hateful legislation will limit the amount of research that can be conducted around queer academic topics.

Education Extinction

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This poses a threat to those who have staked their career on studying queer issues. Departments within the social sciences and humanities seem to be most threatened, considering their openness to explore gender and sexuality in their material.

What Comes Next?

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With legions of teachers exiting the workforce, shortages in the industry are sure to have lasting consequences. And while it may be too early to say, the future of higher education appears foggy, with many questioning what topic might be banned next.

The post Forced Out: The Exodus of Teachers Facing Anti-LGBTQ+ Laws first appeared on Pulse of Pride.

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