As Americans celebrated the June 26 Supreme Court decisions striking down California’s Proposition 8 and a key portion of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, many LGBT schoolteachers may have ended the party a little early or avoided it altogether.
Across the country, thousands of LGBT educators are forced to be closeted for fear of being harassed or otherwise discriminated against by coworkers, parents, and administrators, with the most dire consequence being the loss of their jobs. Their fate is usually in the hands of school board members, or, in private schools, administrative personnel, who generally have only the teacher’s work history and a list of parental complaints to go by.
But while there have been numerous incidents of parents filing complaints about their children being taught by LGBT people, in some cases students have been the first to rally in support of the teacher.
Such was the case with Ken Bencomo. a teacher at St. Lucy’s Priory High School in Glendora, Calif., for 17 years. In July a local newspaper printed a picture of Bencomo and his partner’s wedding, prompting the administration at St. Lucy’s to notify the popular educator that because his marriage went against the Roman Catholic Church’s teachings, he was fired.