Harvard Educational Review
  1. School's Out

    The Impact of Gay and Lesbian Issues on America's Schools

    by Dan Woog

    Boston: Alyson, 1995. 383 pp. $11.95 (paper).

    Journalist Dan Woog presents a collection of human stories of gay and lesbian educators and students and of the proponents behind support organizations such as Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG); Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Teachers Network (GLSTN); and Get Rid of Homophobia! (GROH!). Woog organizes School's Out into three sections — people, places, and programs. His intention is not to be all-inclusive but to present a diverse range of experiences from the United States. "What I have tried to do is open readers' eyes and minds; to whet appetites, and induce a hunger to learn more" (p. 15). What follows are the stories of educators and students from a variety of social, cultural, and racial backgrounds that, according to the author, "personalize lesbian and gay life" (p. 14).

    The pages of School's Out overflow with stories of individuals who, in the face of adversity, overcome prejudice and hate, ultimately to flourish and teach others. Corey Canant, a teenager from Connecticut, comes out in his junior year of high school and becomes an advocate for gay teens by speaking to high school health classes as a representative of Your Turf, a Connecticut-based social and support group for gay adolescents. Connie Burns, a White teacher who attends a lesbian and gay march in Washington, DC, is seen on the television news by students and colleagues at the Buffalo, New York school at which she teaches. Reggie Sellars, an African American who was a football star at Yale, becomes a role model for the students he teaches at a prep school in Massachusetts. Thera Urist and Torey Wilson reflect on the challenges of being gay and lesbian student teachers and wrestling with whether or not to come out to their classmates and their students. Woog presents a diverse collection of stories from students, teachers, and administrators from private and public schools in urban, suburban, and rural settings around the United States.

    Among the programs presented is the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Teachers Network (GLSTN), a national coalition of gay and straight teachers devoted to fighting homophobia in schools. Another featured program is Project 10, a school-based dropout prevention program for gay, lesbian, and bisexual teenagers. Each of the profiles is honest and inspirational, making the reader aware of the ongoing struggle to eliminate homophobia and create safe learning environments for all students.

    Woog includes a resources section, which lists books, brochures, handbooks, journals, resource guides, curriculum materials, films, videotapes, audiotapes, resource agencies and organizations, selected school gay-straight alliances, school district programs, teacher organizations, and training programs and workshops. This collection is as comprehensive as it is engaging. Woog writes that after completing the interviews for School's Out, he "came away exhilarated by joy that so much is changing for the better," yet he implores us to continue the work of those presented in School's Out.

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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