Now here’s a real lesson in life education.
Emma Baldry, a 31-year-old teacher in Liverpool, England, made the conscious decision to let her annual intake of students know she is a lesbian – and proud of it.
“It isn’t a question of me walking into a classroom and saying ‘hi, I’m Mrs Baldry and I’m a lesbian teacher’ but we talk about how all families are different and every one is special because of it,” she told the Liverpool Echo.
“It’s my way of letting kids know that my room is a safe space to talk about anything, and that it is all-inclusive.”
After coming out to pupils for the first time following her civil partnership in 2009, Stonewall – a campaign group set up to oppose Section 28 which prevented the promotion of homosexuality in school – offered her school a visit from Lance Corporal James Wharton to speak at an assembly about being ‘out’ in the Army.
In front of the whole school in the assembly hall, she introduced James as being gay – just like her.
“I knew James would come and talk but then he’d leave again and I wanted the kids to know they had somebody still in school who they could find if they were struggling,” she said.
“And they no longer had Section 28 to stop them like I did, so in a way I wanted to make up for the situation I’d found myself in.”
Emma’s outing has generally been well received, with one student penning a heartfelt letter.
“If it wasn’t for you I don’t think I would have ever ‘come out’,” she wrote.
“When I first started here I was really scared to ‘come out’ mainly because the words ‘gay’ and ‘dyke’ were used all the time as insults but also because at that time there wasn’t anyone else that I knew of that had ‘come out’.
“Then I heard that you had ‘come out’ and because you were a teacher it made being gay more normal and accepted.”
The student concluded: “Also hearing your stories about when you ‘came out’ made me feel a lot better to know I wasn’t the only person in the world (which it sometimes feels like).”
Emma says she made her mind up to always be open for her own sake, and also as a way of helping the young people she teaches.
“Do I lie or do I tell the truth? I chose the latter because I’d gone through enough time living as not me so I promised myself that now I’d found who I truly was I would never ever hide my sexuality again,” she said.