gay-straight alliances, LGBTQ, queer, administration, homophobia
Garrett: There were rumblings of Gay-Straight Alliances in Toronto at that point. I’d also heard some rumblings of them in Kawartha. But we didn’t have any here, and so I started to shift my work to include LGBTQ but of course back then we didn’t even have that terminology. But to shift toward queerness and queer issues and, um, experience significant pushback as a result of that.
Tara: This is from administration?
Garrett: Yes. Mostly senior admin, like trustees, and the board. I was pretty much told I couldn’t run them, and that if I continued my job was in jeopardy. Um, I’m a social activist, so I continued. And, um, it was interesting because I felt the support of principals around me, they were just delivering the message they were receiving from higher up. And at the time twenty years ago there were a few trustees that were adamant that I was converting kids to homosexuality.
Tara: Right. That was the problem. That was the fear.
Garrett: That was the fear. That you were converting – and ironically while I was trying to start up the first Gay-Straight Alliance I had also, I had forgotten about it, I was interviewed by a local paper going into Pride season and I’d forgotten about that, and so at the same time I was told to stop with the GSAs, the article came out in the local paper. And it was – they had interviewed young, back then I was young, [laughter] young urban professionals who are out.
Tara: Yah. Right.
Garrett: So I was the teacher, but there was a doctor, there was a lawyer, that kind of thing. And in there was paraphrased that Mr. Metcalfe is encouraged that fifteen to twenty students a year are coming out at the school that I was at. And that was interpreted to mean I was converting.