“Being gay is something to be frowned upon”

Vanja Skotnes

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Amanda (22) is a teacher in a catholic school in Galway. She is also gay. No one knows of her sexual orientation, she is too fearful of the consequences to ever come out as gay, she says.

Amanda thinks it’s a shame that not all teachers can be themselves at school. She believes that individuals work best when they feel accepted and appreciated, and she feels that the current work environment is oppressive.

“Furthermore I believe that if teachers who are openly gay were accepted it would reduce homophobic bullying among children. The teachers would also serve as positive role models for children who are struggling with their sexual orientation”, says Amanda.

“Many people would judge me”

The primary school teacher would prefer to be openly out as gay, but don’t know if she ever will.

“Being a temporary teacher, I think that being out as gay will harm my chances of becoming a permanent teacher. Although the Irish National Teacher’s Organisation claims to be making a progress regarding the inclusion of teachers regardless of sexual orientation there is still an undercurrent that being gay is something to be frowned upon”, she says.

Amanda also fears how the people around her will react.

“I fear that my parents would be extremely disappointed and hurt. In Ireland I think that many people would judge me solely on sexual orientation rather than the content of my character.”

“I feel like a fraud”

At school, she finds the break times the hardest.

“When I’m speaking with other adults it makes me feel a bit more insecure than how I would feel if it was fully accepted being gay. Right now it’s just assumed that everyone s straight, so most conversations revolve around husbands and men in general”, says Amanda.

She never pretend to be attracted to men anymore, but she still finds herself in uncomfortable situations.

“I feel like a fraud when I’m questioned about men directly. For instance, if someone says ‘Isn’t he gorgeous?'”

Wants to be able to help others

If one of Amanda’s students came out as gay, she would embrace them with understanding and respect.

“I would tell them that I totally understand and that I don’t see them any differently now. I would tell them that I am always free to listen if they ever needed someone to vent to. I would offer to tell their parents if they wanted me to, but of course I would leave the decision up to them”, she says.

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Vanja Skotnes

As a former journalist for Amnesty International, I will use this blog to write about human rights abuses. My intention is to create more awareness. Follow my posts and stay updated. Twitter: @vanjaskotnes