gay-straight alliance, family, family dynamics, teacher identity, advocacy, queer labour
Garrett: I think that because of my age and my kids’ age, my kids are 24 and 22 now. So they were pre – there were some GSAs starting to operate while they were in school but they were pre a lot of that, especially at the elementary age. Um, so there were many conversations that needed to be had with teachers who just made assumptions about the type of families that they, that both my kids had. Especially for us, I mean everybody has unique families, but, um, when my ex and I separated, um, we continued to live together. So we bought a duplex, she lived in the one unit, I lived in the other unit, and we continued to raise the kids together in separate units. And then I met who is now my husband, and he moved in. And so the two of us were in my one unit, and my ex was in the other. And we did that for about six or seven years before my husband and I got married. Then we purchased two separate places, but, so we had that unique kind of family. And so I remember, you know, specific moments. I had an elementary teacher call me once, in fear, but trying to just get information, um, because apparently, in circle at the beginning of the year, the teacher opened up the conversation in circle, and one of my children acknowledged to the entire group, that “I live with Mommy, Daddy, and Daddy’s boyfriend”. And so I got the call of panic, it wasn’t, um, it wasn’t malicious, it was just “What do I do? And what does this mean?” Some of it was a little bit, “Is she telling the truth?”. Like that kind of “mom, dad and boyfriend are all living in the same house, and I found myself in the position of having to…
Tara: The fact that you were a teacher yourself, do you think that that helped in terms of normalizing your family or even having that difficult conversation with that teacher.
Garrett: Yes. And also from that moment I learned very, very quickly at the beginning of every year, I would through our board email, email the teachers and say, “I work within the system, just letting you know, giving you a heads up, this is the situation”. I tend to be pretty hands off, I think also because I am a teacher I trust in the system, and so it’s usually just an intro: this is who I am, this is the type of family we have, if there’s any problems, give me a buzz at some point but otherwise you won’t hear from me throughout the year kind of thing. So I had the advantage of being able to do that.
Garrett: it also often leads to a lot of conversations where sometimes I had actually gone into the school to do workshops with the staff. So that, a parent wouldn’t necessarily be able to do that…