Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Teachers Groups and Full Marriage Equality

Those against marriage equality have denounced educational associations, such as teachers unions, for standing up for marriage equality. The critics claim that such groups have no interest in the issue.

That is not true.

First, every teacher has students whose education is impacted by the denial of a freedom to marry and other forms of discrimination. Some students come from homes that are disadvantaged or threatened by law enforcement because the home is headed by same-sex couples, or a polyamorous or polygamous set of parents, or consanguineous parents. Denial of the freedom to marry places burdens on the entire household. This puts the students at a disadvantage in learning.

But more directly, some teachers themselves are denied their freedom to marry. This goes back further than denying same-sex couples their marital rights. This goes back even further than denying heterosexual interracial couples their marital rights.

Check out this stroll through history by Ralph Lea and Christi Kennedy

Six female teachers in Lodi got an unwanted letter in the mail in May 1923. In the letter, the Lodi School District Board of Trustees requested the six women resign their teaching jobs because they were married.

That’s right! Heterosexual females couldn’t be teachers and be married to anyone.

As was common practice throughout the nation at that time, the Lodi grammar school board adopted a resolution in 1921, stating, "No married teachers would be employed whose husbands were living and able to support them."

Can you imagine? Well, if you’ve had to stay closeted in the workplace, you probably can.

In 1923, Lodi had a population of about 7,100. There were four police officers and 1,412 telephones in Lodi homes and businesses. There were five grammar schools, one high school and three private schools. Between all the schools, Lodi had 100 teachers for the biggest number in the city's history up to that time. It was a progressive, modern time, but still a time when a woman's place was in the home, married and having babies.

Which means a man could be married (only to a certain woman) and still be a teacher. It was a sexist denial of the freedom to marry.

Throughout the nation, the early 1900s through the 1920s was a time when married women were chastised for working as teachers and were expected to resign their jobs.

To me, it makes sense that educational associations would now be involved in standing up for marriage equality. We need full marriage equality so that teachers can teach without fear of losing their jobs because they are LGBT, poly, or consanguinamorous, and so that students can learn and grow, living in families that are respected, knowing that they are free to be who they are and love who they love.
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