How Far Is Too Far When A Teacher Shares Personal Information With Their Students?

6 years ago
This article was written by a member of the SheKnows Community. It has not been edited, vetted or reviewed by our editorial staff, and any opinions expressed herein are the writer’s own.

"Hey babe, how was school?"

"My teacher is a lesbian!"

"Excuse me?"

"She told us today in class.  She's a lesbian."


Okay back the truck up!  WTF?  Not your typical conversation to be having with your twelve year old, I know.  Yet this is the conversation I had with my son on Thursday after school, and believe me.  It caused me some concern.

How did this all start?

Well apparently my son's teacher had been away for like two weeks or so.  I had no idea, since my son didn't say anything to me.  Rumors went spiraling out of control about why his teacher was absent.  Everything from -- she was in the hospital to she's having an affair with a woman, to she was in jail.

On Thursday the teacher returned and that's when she decided to sit down and discuss with the kids the rumors that were going around about her and what the kids had heard.  That's also when she decided to "come out" and in fact confirm that she was indeed a lesbian to her entire class.

Now I have nothing against anyone who is gay, straight, black, white, lesbian, bisexual or otherwise.  What someone else does on their time is their personal business.  

My son also knows that relationships and matters of the heart don't just pertain to "heterosexual" couples.  That indeed in our world people are gay (whether it's two men in love or two women) and we've had many talks about the subjects and both FD and I have done our very best to answer his questions openly and honestly.

That is not the issue for me.

The issue for me -- is why on earth is it okay for a teacher to share her personal and sexual orientation with her students during school time when my son should be learning, instead of discussing gossip that went around the school about his teacher?  

And further more why did his teacher feel the need to even discuss it period? I could see if she wanted to put the students minds at ease, saying something like "I'm sorry I was away. I know you all must have heard many rumors about me.  I took some personal time to deal with things and I'd like to discuss gossip and how it can affect us as individuals when someone says bad things about us." 

Something along those lines.  I'd be okay with.  I'm not okay with a teacher sharing her sexual orientation or sexual preference with my son, nor do I see the educational baring this has on my child while he is at school to learn!

Another example of this kind of behavior that is being allowed by teachers in our schools is my son's teacher two years ago. She came to class and before they started their lessons, this particular teacher decided to share her weekend with her students.  My son learned all about her blind date with this guy and the horror movie they went to see that scared the crap out of her, and even watched a clip of it on her iphone.

I was completely disgusted and outraged!

Again this had nothing to do with actual teaching my son anything and personal weekends and date nights I felt should have been kept personal and not meant for the ears of grade five students.  Yet our school district keeps condoning this type of behavior.

I don't care whether my son's teacher is gay or straight.  I'm also deeply sorry that kids in the school spread nasty rumors about her, and apparently on Facebook as well.  It's never nice to have someone talk about you, even if what they are saying is true and I think those students should be held accountable for their actions or at least spoken to and I hope they have. Gossip mongering is nasty business.

However, I do not feel it was appropriately handled. My son did not need to know what was going on his teachers personal life. Nor did learning such things about her stop the gossip. In fact quite the opposite.  It's all the kids are talking about now. "Hey did you know Mrs... So and So is gay?  She kisses girls!"

I think it's difficult for teachers, bringing in personal information and sharing it with the class is a fine line.  Many teachers talk about their families, their children, their past in order to connect and share with their students.  I can understand that.  I also commend my son's teacher for her honesty on the subject.  It's better to be honest than lie to your students, especially if you want their trust while teaching them.  I do not think she should be fired, penalized or anything for the situation.

We live in a judgmental society.  It's sad but true, and it's sad that a teacher or anyone for that matter cannot share honesty about themselves without being picked apart for it.  Part of me feels that perhaps this teacher can reach other students who are in fact "homosexual" and living a lie, hiding, afraid to share who they are.  And with the suicide rate for "homosexual youths" in our society rising.  Perhaps sharing her story will help someone be less afraid to face the truth and feel stronger to face the truth.

The other part of me though wishes teachers would stick to teaching and stop sharing their personal lives with my son. Maybe that's my mom side, my protective side.  I just don't feel it's my son's business to know where some guy took his teacher on a date, what they did, or that his teacher prefers to sleep with a woman over a man, and instead focus on the lessons he's there to learn.

But then again - isn't life a lesson?

This issue for me isn't about homosexuality.  It's about judgement being used when teachers share personal information about their lives.  Is it okay to talk about your family?  Can you talk about your kids?  Can you discuss a place you visited on the weekend?  Do you tell your students your husband or wife beats you?  It's okay to share you are a homosexual or talk about your spouse, even put up pictures of them and your kids on your desk.  Then is it okay to talk about sex positions with your partner?

Where is the line drawn?

What do you think?  How far is too far when a teacher shares personal information with their students?

Jodi & Corey Shaw |




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