USA NATIONAL COMING OUT DAY

IT’S NATIONAL COMING OUT DAY – IT’S THE 28TH YEAR

 

And it’s the first year I have and will participate – I’m a Lesbian. Boom ! Drop the mic, no hardly a news flash.

 

Why does it matter? Why do we do this? Is it just another hallmark card day? Surely everyone who knows me knows I am gay so “whatevs Bleasdale, get over yourself”.

 

Well first of all not everyone knows, and some would say I even ‘pass as straight’ (although I don’t wear skirts as often as I used to). I deliberately don’t have a super short butch haircut, I like jewelry, and shoes OMG shoes ….pretty ones and ugly ones, penny loafers and heels.

I just started a new job as an assistant professor at the University of San Francisco, for the first time I outed myself as gay, married, parenting, during the hiring process. Yes, I felt I had to do that, because I have never had a job where that was not an issue. I am 46 next week

I have been in education for 22 years (20 of which was in high school teaching) I have worked in public, private, secular and religious schools. I have worked summer jobs delivering mail or post depending where you live, as a tea lady for the UK government, (yes really) making PIMMS at Wimbledon, serving beer in a bar, in nursing homes for people who needed a lot of help, in a women’s hospital, and I have NEVER felt that it ask to be gay in my work. I have NEVER felt it was OK to be entirely myself. Although I have also NEVER been the victim of a homophobic attack and have for the most part had a very supportive family and group of friends I have never felt it was OK to come out publicly  until now. And even now, as I am learning the life of higher education and building my consulting practice – I am wondering,  will ‘coming out out publicly hurt my chance of a new consulting contract? a promotion? Being asked to serve on a committee?  Having my work published? As a parent I am wondering if it will hurt my kids – does it hurt them having two Moms? ( They don’t seem to think so, they don’t like football either !)

This isn’t a pity party ‘poor me, poor me, pour me another drink.’ But I share it in the hopes that when we come out as adults, who live ‘normal’ adult lives – a younger person, a closeted older person, a scared person can look at me and say ‘huh it’s okay to be gay’. Last week a young graduate student asked me to be a mentor – I asked ‘why me’ and the response was ‘I’m queer, I have never had a queer mentor.’ The old fashioned, conservative English me bristled at the word queer – yes internalized homophobia – still present. But this student knows that being gay is a challenge in 2016, in San Francisco, arguably the gayest place on earth!

If you are still reading this far – and you are a member of the LGBTQ come out today, come out and celebrate who you are. If you are a straight ally – we need you, not just for marriage to remain our right but so that we don’t get humiliated in public, hurt in our work space or have to deny who we are.

#inclusionnottolerance

 

Jane Bleasdale PhD.

University of San Francisco – Assistant Professor

Educational Consultant. Janebleasdale.com

Resident – Maplewood NJ and San Francisco CA

Why Inclusion ?

This morning Ava Duvanay was interviewed on CBS – she was there to talk about her phenomenal work as a film maker. Ava was the first female director who is Black to be nominated for an Oscar for her film ‘SELMA’ – This weekend her latest movie ’13th’ about the 13th amendment and mass incarceration of Black males in the USA debuts at the NYC film festival.

 

ava-duvernay-1In her interview Ava describes brilliantly why inclusion is such an important word and  aspect of her work. ‘Inclusion is the opposite to exclusion’ – and we all know what that feels like Ava explained.( click on the link below for the full interview)

 

Inclusion not diversity

 

Shout out to my Mum who watched this and emailed me at 8 am to let me know that my work is being endorsed. Thanks Mum !…#inclusionnottolernce

 

 

Equity not Equality .

At the risk of sounding like a politician  I am becoming more and more intrigued by semantics. Words matter, not just how we use them the tone and inference  but the actual word choice. We have paid a lot of attention in recent years to tone and ‘professionalism’. The current political campaign has shown us that being brash and loud is offensive, but being quiet and calm and using words that condemn and judge innocent people is just as dangerous. Intent versus impact – the meaning we intend to convey versus the impact the words has on those who hear us is an important area of the field of equity and inclusion.

Equity is not equality – giving people equal respect does not mean they will be treated equitably.The difference is important for us to recognise as educators, parents, leaders, politicians.

More soon…

 

Art Science Soul and the Equity Imperative

 

Today  I am really excited to be attending the National Association of Independent Schools People of Color Conference Student Diversity Leadership Conference.T his is something I have wanted to do for many years..going with a wonderful coworker and four students, cannot wait to learn from the best in the field .
Follow conference updates on my twitter feed.

 

 

http://pocc.nais.org/Pages/default.aspx

Dare to Explore and Discover

 

National Adoption Day #inclusionnottolerance

Yup, those are my kids and I am talking about them again, and spreading my personal agenda. This time it’s adoption. Yesterday was National Adoption Day ,admittedly we have too many ‘days’ and soon if it has not happened already there will be a national day for cupcakes, or Tupperware or even better we will not need them. That is my goal and my personal agenda, the calendar will be free of dedicated days, weeks, months because everyone will be included and celebrated during the year, automatically without the President of the USA or the UN having to declare it so. As for adoption, the understanding and inclusion for adoptees is still far from a daily event in our schools, places of worship, businesses, homes, federal government or national policies. How do I know? Because people say  insensitive stuff all the time, to my kids, to my family to me. They have been at least once a year (and for most of second grade) asked to focus on their family tree, their DNA, genetics (yes long before 7th grade science.) We have had very awkward conversations with total strangers about my son’s red hair – and where he gets it from – I respond “my grandfather and sister have red hair”( which is true). They have been asked what happened to their ‘real’ Mum and Dad and more than once in our presence they have been told, as have we, how ‘lucky they are’. Let me be clear, there is nothing lucky about their lives – they saved us not vice versa. Recently, when applying for a new passport my son asked ‘ when you are adopted do your eyes change color’? At first I thought this was a silly question, of course not. Then I talked to friends and realized the depth of his question, because, in our family we all have blue eyes and people comment on it, a lot, he assumes that they were changed when the Judge signed the adoption papers. Poor kid, life must be so confusing at times.

I appreciate all the love and support we have had over the ten years they have been part of our lives, I really do – but it has also been eye opening. Adoption is rarely discussed in schools, cannot be found in curriculum scientific or historic. So, much like Black History, Women’s History, Native American History, LGBTQ history , Asian history , Latino History – the history of  adoption and non biological families needs a day to celebrate and recognize the important place adoption plays in our society.

SO why this photo? I have used it in my classes and workshops when reflecting on assumptions, stereotypes – I ask people to look at this picture and tell me what they say, often come the answers like ‘ kids of privilege, rich, family, and siblings, pretty, beautiful, cute, vacation. They are cute but my work will be done when someone says, ‘they could be adopted.’

Equity not Diversity

For the past decade many schools have been committed to DIVERSITY, ensuring they have  a diverse student body , diverse, personnel, diversity represented at every level. I propose that it is time to move beyond DIVERSITY to EQUITY, in the same way it is time to move beyond TOLERANCE to INCLUSION.

What is the difference?
DIVERSITY: defined as variety a variety of something such as opinion, color, or style (Encarta)
EQUITY: actions, treatment of others, or a general condition characterized by justice, fairness, and impartiality
TOLERANCE: the act of putting up with somebody or something irritating or otherwise unpleasant
INCLUSION: the addition of somebody or something to, or the presence of somebody or something in, a group or mixture

We need to share our experiences more…

Last week when presenting  my research to collagues I was reminded of the importance of this work. I heard from a panel of diverse voices, people of color and members of the LGBTQ community. Each recounted times when they felt ‘on the outside’ of society, of school of their community. Some found the trip down memory lane painful and yet were willing to share – Adults in educaitonal comuntities need to do this more, to talk about their own expereinces as ‘other’. We carry who we are with us all the time and whether we are aware of it or not – it affects us in our interactions with family friends and colleagues. In her book Daring Greatly Brenee Brown describes how painful this can be and yet how liberating – it is importatn for us to ‘dare to be great ‘ so that the conversations can be real , relevant and radical. I think those are the words I am going to adopt for a while. Be real, relevant and radical – and see what happens  In the meantime I encoruage those of you journeying with me to read Brene Brown’s work or watch her Ted Talk. Brene BrownIMG_0116 (2)Let’s take risks in this work, be real, relevant and radical.

Perfect Timing

Is it fortuitous the Pope is here on Yom Kippur ? ( the Jewish high holiday and Day of Atonement.) Yom KippurThe Pope has made peace and justice central to his message, President Obama won a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to bring lasting peace to the International community.Today President Obama met Pope Francis when his plane landed at Camp David.Whatever your religious or political beliefs are – you gotta wonder , What did they say to each other? Both events received negative attention from the media. I am personally a big fan of President Obama meeting the leader of 70 million Catholics in the US. I am also a big fan of Yom Kippur and the Jewish practice of atonement, Wouldn’t it be great if the two celebrated their Judeo Christian roots and visited a Synagogue tomorrow for morning prayers ? That would be a sign of inclusion.

President Obama Welcomes Pope Franci              sPOPE-hp-ss-slide-26EF-thumbStandard

Corporations

For the past decade many corporations have been committed to DIVERSITY, ensuring they have diverse workforce, diverse, personnel, diversity represented at every level. I propose that it is time to move beyond DIVERSITY to EQUITY, in the same way it is time to move beyond TOLERANCE to INCLUSION.

What is the difference?

DIVERSITY:  defined as variety a variety of something such as opinion, color, or style (Encarta)

EQUITY: actions, treatment of others, or a general condition characterized by justice, fairness, and impartiality

TOLERANCE: the act of putting up with somebody or something irritating or otherwise unpleasant

INCLUSION: the addition of somebody or something to, or the presence of somebody or something in, a group or mixture

When a professional group is looking to fully incorporate their staff it’s dangerous to assume that everyone is ready to make the change. People come to work daily with their own bias and pre judgments of others; I was reminded of this today when I attended a workshop run by GLSEN and sponsored by a local corporation. It was great to mix with business professionals, all of whom told us when they were in school there was no GSA or public conversation about equity and inclusion. It was refreshing to hear how far we have come. It HAS gotten better, but corporations like schools are a microcosm of society and need to keep growing and pushing themselves and each other to evolve,

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