Harvard Educational Review
  1. One Teacher in Ten

    By Kevin Jennings

    Boston: Alyson. 1994. 287 pp. $9.95 (paper)

    Gripping, poignant, powerful, emotionally charged — these descriptors merely scratch the surface of what can be said about the stories that unfold within the pages of One Teacher in Ten, a collection of essays written by gay and lesbian educators. The work is the brainchild of Kevin Jennings, cofounder of the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Teachers Network (GLSTN). In 1992, Jennings issued a call to gay and lesbian educators for submissions for the book, hoping to elicit stories that would serve as encouragement and support for other gay and lesbian educators. The end-product contains thirty-six contributions from teachers whose stories of personal struggle and courage serve as powerful lessons for their students and other educators.

    The stories told in One Teacher in Ten reach a global audience; they touch any reader, gay or straight, male or female, of different races and ethnicities — anyone who has faced oppressive circumstances or who has at any time in their lives felt invisible. In a poem written by a lesbian teacher entitled "You Can't Tell by Looking at Me" (p. 79), Christine Robinson quotes Adrienne Rich on the condition of invisibility:

    Invisibility is a dangerous and powerful condition, and lesbians are not the only people to know it.

    When someone with the authority of a teacher describes the world and you are not in it, there is a moment of psychic dis-equilibrium, as if you looked in the mirror and saw nothing.

    The book's poignancy centers on the power of its stories to describe the dimensions and consequences of this invisibility, the state of living and working in situations where part of your being is denied, is not made visible. Through stories of early childhood, of their own experiences as students in school, and of their lives as "closeted" or "out" educators, the authors in One Teacher in Ten reveal their courage and fortitude. The text demonstrates the pedagogical impact of being whole, and how these teachers, through their struggle for the right to be themselves and to be respected, serve as role models for gay, lesbian, and heterosexual adolescents.

    In his introduction, Jennings addresses the one downfall of the book: the collection is limited in terms of the racial, ethnic, and geographic diversity of the authors. Although Jennings was encouraged by some of the progressive changes evident in the vignettes submitted by these educators, the lack of diversity reminded him that "some members of the gay and lesbian community are not as free as others, even if the times were changing" (p. 12). In particular, few stories were submitted by teachers from the South or by gay and lesbian educators of color.

    The strengths of the book, however, far outweigh its weaknesses. One Teacher in Ten is a valuable contribution to the literature on the lives of gay and lesbians and, more specifically, on the contributions of gay and lesbian educators to school communities. The book is a wise addition to any course syllabus for educators interested in and attempting to promote dialogue around issues of multiculturalism and diversity.

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    Book Notes

    Open Lives, Safe Schools
    Edited by Donovan R. Walling

    Uncommon Heroes
    Edited by Phillip Sherman and Samuel Bernstein

    Free Your Mind
    By Ellen Bass and Kate Kaufman.

    Becoming Visible
    Edited by Kevin Jennings

    Death By Denial
    By Gary Remafedi

    Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?
    By Letha Dawson Scanzoni and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott.

    One Teacher in Ten
    By Kevin Jennings

    The Gay Teen
    Edited by Gerald Unks

    Tilting the Tower
    Edited by Linda Garber

    School's Out
    by Dan Woog

    The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader
    Edited by Henry Abelove, Michele Aina Barale, and David M. Halperin

    Joining the Tribe
    By Linnea Due

    How Would You Feel If Your Dad Was Gay?
    By Ann Heron and Meredith Maran; illustrated by Kris Kovick.

    Helping Gay and Lesbian Youth
    Edited by Teresa DeCrescenzo