The Gay Teachers Association of NYC and LGB Students: 1974–1985
by Jason Mayernick - 2020
Background/Context: This study deals with an intersection of educational history, queer history, and labor history involving the activities of lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) teachers. The history of LGBT teachers, particularly before the 1990s, has been addressed by only a handful of historians. The prior research most relevant to this study is Jackie Blount’s Fit to Teach: Same-Sex Desire, Gender, and School Work in the Twentieth Century (2006) and Karen Graves’s And They Were Wonderful Teachers (2009).
Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: This study focuses on the activities of the Gay Teachers Association of New York City (GTA) between 1974 and 1985 as they related to teachers’ job security and the safety of LGB students in NYC public schools. It aims to illustrate the sense of responsibility toward LGB students developed by members of the GTA and how they acted on that responsibility.
Research Design: This is a historical study, relying primarily on archival research and secondarily on interviews conducted by the author.
Conclusions/Recommendations: The teachers of the GTA developed a comprehensive concept of their responsibility as LGB educators. They came to believe that they had a particular responsibility to LGB students. Finally, GTA members actively pursued equity for LGB students in New York City’s public schools through counseling, community outreach, political lobbying, and public debate.
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