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We are three adults living in a polyamorous triad family. The content here is intended for an adult audience. If you are not an adult, please leave now.
I haven't always agreed with every policy or every political stance of every employer I ever worked for. Some were anti-female, and chauvinistic in attitude and practice. Some pushed political agendas with which I, personally, disagreed. On more than one occasion, I pondered the ethics of accepting my paychecks from the coffers of those whose views were so diametrically opposed to my own. The mental gymnastics required in those circumstances are, I imagine, of very little interest.
As a teacher, in a variety of schools over the last quarter of a century, I have lived from spring to spring -- the annual ritual of signing the contract that, each year, defines the work I will do in the next school year. This year will be no different. In May, there will be a day when I will be called upon to sign the contract for next year. Most years, that day is a day of relief and some pleasure.
This year, however, the agreement that I am expected to sign, is more problematic ... and far more challenging personally. Contrary to the assumptions that will be made on the part of some of my strongest critics, the concerns that I have with the document are really not about me. I am way beyond the point where the "pelvic issues" that are featured most prominent in the document are really pertinent in my life. Those who are far younger than I am; who are in the midst of their childbearing years, are confronted with prohibitions on the use of contraceptives, IVF, artificial insemination, surrogate mothers, and abortion. For those who are not married, a pregnancy will spell the end of their careers.
Beyond all of that, there are severe and draconian limitations placed on what any of us can say or do that might give the appearance of sympathy or support for anything that is "counter to." Perhaps the biggest single difficult area for me has to do with LGBTQ people. I work for an institution that says one thing and does an other when it comes to people who are not heterosexual in their orientation. The document that I am required to sign this spring will put me at risk if I stand up for a gay child who is bullied on the playground. I will, likewise be fired if I am seen to attend the wedding of a gay friend. I cannot publicly ally with any organization that holds views that are in conflict with the proclamations of the most dogmatically strict arm of the institution.
It is not an easy place to be. I love the work. I love the school. It is not, for me, just a job -- or just any school. I do not want to be anywhere else, and I do not want to do any other work. I believe in the place, and I believe in the kids and families with whom I work. I do not share the religious perspective that has set all of this misery and anxiety and fear in place, but I have, for nearly a quarter of a century, been a respectful partner in the mutual endeavor of providing an excellent and ethically based education in this place. I have dear and treasured colleagues who will not return next year because they cannot bear to sign the document that is required. There are families who are long-standing, integral members of the community, who will not be placing their children with us going forward; who will choose to find a place that is more fair and open-minded.
For the rest of us, we will sign the objectionable bit of paper, and keep our own counsel as to why. For some, I am sure it is about money. The need for a job is not a small thing. None of us are independently wealthy. Many of us believe in the mission and vision of the place. Ours is not like any other school I've ever seen. It is an unprepossessing place that creates remarkable transformation in the lives of students. We work together, and we make amazing things happen in big and small ways. Heady stuff.
It is a sad march through this slow, softly-blooming spring. My heart is heavy, and my head is in a whirl from the unspoken questions that fly everywhere. There is great pain and great fear in everyone I meet and see these days.
Six weeks, and it will be summertime. Perhaps there will be a quiet space where the fear can subside. The summer sun and heat will bake us all and we will rest. Those who can will go back to school in late August, and begin again to lay foundations and build structures that will, we hope raise up good, decent citizens for the world. Whatever the paper I sign next month declares, that is the work that I do.