Capstone/Dissertation Title

The decision to conceal or reveal: the professional lives of gay male educators





Degree Name



The purpose of this study was to investigate the nature of eight gay male educators' decision to either conceal or reveal their sexuality in the school setting and the effects of those decisions on their professional careers. Through in-depth interviews, data was gathered in the following areas of inquiry: What are the personal and socio-political forces that lead them some of the participants to come out within the educational setting and why do others chose not to come out? How do the participants perceive both the positive and negative effects on their personal and professional relationships when they disclose their identity in the school setting? How does the role of silence influence their decision to conceal or reveal their sexual identity? A total of eight self-identified gay male educators from one suburban school district in Minnesota participated in this study: two African American men and six Caucasian men participated in the study. The participants ranged in age from thirty-five to fifty six. A majority of the participants have come out at least to peers and three are out to families and students within their schools. The study examined the effects of being gay on the professional identity of the teachers and how each of the participants negotiated the decision to reveal their sexuality. The educators invoked reasons of personal, professional and socio-political factors as influential in their decision to come out at school. Each of the participants also expressed caution about the process and expressed that they would not encourage other gay males to come out until they have completed their probationary period and have studied the environment of the particular building and the larger school community within which they find themselves.

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