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"I am gay and about to graduate. My teacher is gay and recently divorced. We spend a lot of time outside of school together and she regularly talks about visiting me in college and how she’s gonna miss me so much. I can’t tell what her feelings are, but I know I am in love with her. Should I just ignore my feelings and see if it goes away once I leave?"

- Question submitted by Anonymous and answered by Sara Schmidt-Kost as a part of Everyone Is Gay: Second Opinions

Sara Says:

Thanks for your question! This is such a tough subject, with many separate issues to consider.

First, I think it’s important to understand that teacher/student relationships are very tricky to navigate from both sides. An essential part of a teacher’s job is to build relationships with their students, to be a mentor and support them as best they can. But when that relationship crosses the line from professional mentoring into something more, things can get tricky. I think you are walking a very fine line here, one that has the potential to get both you and your teacher in trouble personally and professionally. Given the sentence about not knowing how your teacher feels, I’m going to assume nothing inappropriate has happened between you both yet. Do everything you can to keep that from happening. Careers and lives can be ruined by crossing that line from student/teacher to something more romantic.

Full disclosure, I had a teacher in high school who was caught allegedly texting inappropriate things and soliciting sex from one of my classmates. This has influenced my opinion on teacher/student relationships.

There are power dynamics in a teacher/student relationship that must be considered as well. A teacher is in a position of power and influence over impressionable children and teenagers, and as such, teachers must be cautious when developing close relationships with their students. In the “mainstream” society, the fear about LGBT teachers “influencing” children still exists, and I believe LGBT teachers (and all teachers for that matter) need to be cautious in their actions, if only to protect themselves from untrue accusations. I recognize this is probably an extreme point of view, however I think it’s the reality of the world we live in. Obviously students are bound to get crushes on young teachers, but I think teachers should discourage that from happening as much as possible. Especially as a lesbian, I am very aware of the boundaries I set up with my students because of a potential situation like this arising. While working with my students, I make sure that my interactions with them are always appropriate and professional.

In addition, there are many ways teachers can mentor and support their students, but it sounds as though your teacher has been relying on you for support after her divorce. Please understand that a teacher’s work should be to support their students, not to receive support from them. Your teacher needs to find a more appropriate means of support for herself, so she can support you while you prepare for your transition into college.

Since you’re off to college soon, start looking ahead at all the excitement and adventure waiting for you. Maybe your college has an LGBT group you can join. Maybe your future college roommate has a friend from her hometown who would be perfect for you. Maybe there will be a wonderful, gorgeous stranger in one of your exciting college courses, and your eyes will meet from across the classroom and… Anyway, my point is, there are so many possibilities out there. Don’t hold yourself back because of your teacher. Jump in feet first to the college life of 10 A.M. classes, afternoon naps, midnight cram sessions, and house parties! Do everything you can to enjoy this part of your life. You’re only young and in college once.

Hopefully once you immerse yourself in college life, your feelings for your teacher will subside. If you’re so inclined, you can keep in contact with your teacher while you are in college. As a young adult, it can be helpful to have a mentor to guide you through the tricky parts of being a young adult and entering the work world. (Networking! Am I right?) But please, keep it cordial but not intimate. As you venture out into the world, it’s important for you to be able to distinguish a professional relationship, like those with a mentor, teacher, boss, or coworker, from a platonic friendship. This relationship should stay strictly professional.

Sara Schmidt-Kost is an out, queer Educator in Minneapolis, MN. Read more about her and her work on our Second Opinions page!


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"I’m a teacher on tumblr and have students on tumblr. I found a student’s tumblr and discovered ze prefers gender-neutral pronouns. The school is very accepting and all zir’s teachers would be willing to educate themselves about it. However, I don’t want to out the student (without permission, in general, etc.), especially since I haven’t been told directly (nor asked to inform others!). What do you think is the best course of action?"

-Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

OKAY LISTEN. I don’t know what the actual right thing to do is, but I’m going to tell you what I would do and like, you don’t have to listen to me if you don’t wanna.

So, if I were in your position I would talk to WATERBOTTLE (student name) after class. I would literally say, “Listen WATERBOTTLE, I accidentally came across your tumblr and noticed you prefer gender-neutral pronouns, is that something you’d prefer in school, too, or do you keep school/after school separate on purpose?”

Chances are ze will be ELATED that you (1) care enough to ask AND (2) are super into the idea of being respectful and considerate of their wants/needs.

HOWEVER, I would absolutely not approach other teachers before you’ve had this conversation. You just never know. There was a long period of time where I was totally out to my friends and family, but I didn’t feel like having that conversation at work. It’s just a different environment and I wasn’t completely comfortable just yet. This could totally be the case with WATERBOTTLE, so check in before you spread the word.


Kristin Says:

I agree. Talk to the student one on one and let them know you are cool with whatever they’d like, take it from there, and – obviously – don’t out the student to others.

Or you could simply start referring them as WATERBOTTLE and see if they are an Everyone Is Gay fan, and then you won’t even need to have the conversation because they’ve already read this and so they know you know and you now know they know you know they know.

You know?

Also, no big deal, but we checked in with our friend Zak over atThe Art of Transliness to see what he’d do in this situation, and turns out his advice was spot on with Dannielle’s! Here is what Zak advised:

Do your students know you follow them on Tumblr? If so, this particular student might have partially been putting that information out there in hopes that you’d see it. If it wouldn’t be too awkward, perhaps you could take zir aside and let zie know that you found zir blog and/or saw that zie preferred gender neutral pronouns and just ask if zie would like you to start using those pronouns or talk to other people about it for zir. Just letting the student know that you are supportive and that you want to help would be nice. 

Zak is pretty amazing, and if you don’t already – you should check out The Art of Transliness!