Different

It wasn’t very long ago when blacks and whites were segregated in this country. It wasn’t very long ago when I found out that one of my best friends was a lesbian. It wasn’t very long ago when a classmate of mine began living her life as a man. I cringe thinking about the fear, hatred, prejudice and unfairness we as a species may invoke. The best thing being a teacher did for me was to open my eyes to tolerance.  Many of the literature stories were chosen to help students consider another side of the story, to consider how someone else may have felt, to consider the feelings of others, to have empathy. I also taught science and health. Those subjects brought up many subjects. The junior high kids were interested, and they asked a lot of questions. I know they would ask me questions to get me off the subject of direct objects, but any question could turn into an opportunity for me to stomp out ignorance. That’s gross, Mrs. Meister.  Why would somebody do that? That’s just wrong. The students were interested in homosexuality and Transgender topics as well.  My main objective always was to explain as simply and effectively as possible, but promote tolerance and acceptance. There was always someone outspoken and intolerant. They couldn’t consider themselves in the situation, but I was always aware that there could be a student in my class secretly struggling with his/her own sexuality. This was my attitude and I shared it frequently.  I don’t think it is my place to judge anyone else on this Earth. I’m a happier person when I like people. What if this was my child? That often got their attention. They hadn’t considered that. Before you make comments, before you pass judgement, before you hate, what if this was your child? It opened up dialogue, and if nothing else, I hoped it helped them consider what it might feel like to be in their shoes. There has been a lot of talk about Bruce, now Caitlin Jenner. I cannot begin to understand how she must have felt her whole life. I think it is tragic that she waited so long before living as a woman. If I was in a public restroom, and she walked in, I would not be offended. I would not be scared. I would not protest. I would go about my business in my private stall. I would wash my hands and check my eyes for smudged mascara; check my teeth for pepper or spinach. Then I would go about my business.  My own business…

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