Why, after nine years of teaching, I've finally come out to my students.


I’ve done it. After nine years of teaching, I finally came out to my students. It shouldn’t be a big deal in this day and age but, unfortunately, it still is.

When I was a pupil myself I had a horrible time. I was subjected to the most horrendous bullying on an almost-daily basis. This was before I even knew I was gay – they all seemed to know something I didn’t, and delighted in making my life hell. I was told that, “it’s just something we have to put up with”.

I decided to become a teacher to right a few wrongs, to give young people the opportunities I didn’t have; to make them feel safe, respected and secure.

It took a long time, however, to be fully honest about who I am – partly because I was warned categorically in my training year never to come out.

When a new head teacher arrived at my current school, I decided to broach the idea of commemorating LGBT History Month. He was all for it.

I wanted to increase visibility of LGBT+ people and issues in our school and “normalise” it. As part of a range of events, I thought it would be a good idea to come out to pupils in an assembly. It’s something I have wanted to do for some time — the final frontier, perhaps. I hoped it would build an open and positive relationship with students. If we are going to increase visibility and acceptance of the LGBT+ community, then we must start with ourselves as role models.

I thought about how it would have helped me to have an LGBT+ figure to look up to and decided to go for it. I said: “As a gay man, I know how important it is to have positive role models.” No drama, no jazz hands. Done.

At first, most people didn’t react at all. Some shrugged, others smiled. I had felt nervous, anxious and sweaty beforehand, but so relieved afterwards. A few minutes later, one student, who I have never taught, came up to me and said, “Sir, your assembly just changed my life.” Then they walked away, not wanting to cause a scene.

That’s why I did it, right there. I know now I’ve probably made a difference to at least one life for ever and we can’t put a price on that. No amount of backlash – which so far has been minimal – can take that way.

Having taken nine years to pluck up the courage, I understand why most LGBT teachers don’t come out. But I would encourage all of them to do it for the sake of all those young people who need us. Maybe then it’ll stop being a big deal and will no longer make the news. It’ll finally just be accepted as part of life.

Now, with some colleagues, I'm setting up #lgbted. Let's be the role models we needed. 

Author Profile

Daniel Gray

Daniel Gray

That gay teacher, campaigner and speaker. Sometimes a singer. Co-founder of #LGBTed.

1 story


Lisa Hannay Lisa Hannay @lisahan 4 months ago
Thanks for your courage! I have been coming out to staff and students for a few years now but still have some reluctance to really, really be "out". For example I am currently on holidays and travel alone. People ask me where my husband is and I tell them that I don't have one (true) but I don't tell them I don't have a wife either. I struggle I guess deciding if it is my job to rattle a complete stranger's world or perception. Some would say it is.
Hannah Wilson Hannah Wilson @misswilsey 4 months ago
@lisahan I told Daniel you needed to meet! You beat me to it. Daniel - Lisa is the Canadian I met at #womened who I mentioned! This is an inspiring blog!
Flora RH Richards Flora RH Richards @cupacoco 4 months ago
Wow, Daniel, thank you very, very much for sharing your experience and rational. I am keen to work in this st my school as you'll see from my last blog https://staffrm.io/@cupacoco/BolJdtQuyx We will definitely be in touch to see how we can support lgbted.
Daniel Gray Daniel Gray @thatgayteacher 4 months ago
Thanks Flora - if you follow me on twitter @thatgayteacher you'll see what we're doing to set up LGBTed and maybe you can help in some way?
Caroline Mortlock Caroline Mortlock @sisyphus 4 months ago
Let me know what I can do - am 100% behind this, absolutely delighted with this initiative. Daily, I am seeing students' lives transformed as a result of being in a school where it is safe to come out,
Daniel Gray Daniel Gray @thatgayteacher 4 months ago
Hi Caroline, thanks! Are you on Twitter? If so, give me a follow for all the latest #LGBTed info - will be good to have you on board! @thatgayteacher
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