By Executive Director Paul Stein
When I began my career in education as a teacher in the late 1970s, a close friend and fellow teacher faced a dilemma. After approaching the administration and board of the Boston-area private school where he worked, Eric Rofes was told that if he were to come out as gay, he would be fired. Unwilling to agree to hide his identity, he lost his job.
He later went on to write a book about it, and found a more welcoming school where he and his students together wrote and published the then acclaimed The Kids Book of Divorce, The Kids Book about Parents, and The Kids Book about Death and Dying. He became an activist, a professor and author of many books on schooling, AIDS, sexuality, the gay community and more before passing away at 51 years of age.
At Schools for Children, we often speak about how important it is that each one of our schools serves as an inclusive community. This is a core value.
I initially wrote this blog as part of a Schools for Children spring 2021 eNewsletter that outlined the work we are doing to assure that our schools are inclusive of LGBTQ+ students, parents and staff members. As I wrote this, I could not help but to think of how times have changed since I started out in the classroom. I thought of how my friend’s voice, in concert with many others, was part of the reason for this change.
Rather than silence voices and stifle lives, our schools and programs work to welcome and empower them. This leads to both individual fulfillment and healthier communities.
The work is not finished by any means, and it is not easy. In a small way, we want posts like this and our newsletters to continue to give voice to the importance of that work.