What U.K. Classroom Teaching Taught Me About the Power of Belonging
“You shouldn’t wear those long dresses,” said my new boss, who was “having a word” with me during his smoking break. I was young and new to teaching. I hadn’t yet found my footing at this school.
My boss leaned back against the wall. “Of course the kids give you a hard time, when you look feminine like that. Wear something more powerful. They’ll take advantage otherwise.”
Stunned, I spent the rest of the day wondering whether the rebellions I’d been seeing in my classroom were due to my floaty skirt. They weren’t, of course, as I’d soon see. The kids were testing my boundaries—it’s kind of their job. But at the time, I felt sick to my stomach. The way I dressed hadn’t affected my classrooms as a trainee, but did my boss know something about these kids that I didn’t? Was I less powerful than I thought, when I dressed as I chose?
Did I actually not belong?
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You belong here, queerly dear.