How do you deal with being a high school coach and being gay?

  • MichVBPlayer2...

    Posts: 132

    Jul 10, 2008 1:37 AM GMT
    I am a high school swimming and diving coach. This will be my third year doing it and I absolutely love my job. I am finishing up my schooling to be a high school math teacher and wouldn't be able to get through school without coaching.
    My question is for any other gay coaches out there. How do you balance being out and being a coach. I have been out for almost 10 years now but I coach in a pretty conservative area, not to mention I'm coaching swimming where there are constantly young men and women half naked around me. I worry constantly that I might be outed and have some parents get upset about it. I keep my personal life separate from coaching but at the same time the stress of it isn't healthy. The other coaches I work with don't know yet, or at least I haven't come out to them but am thinking about doing that this year. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jul 10, 2008 11:17 AM GMT
    In this case, I think being closeted is justified. But that's just me. People are still way to sensitive to the imagined homosexual 'recruiting' for them to be really comfortable about knowing the teachers of their kids are gay.

    However, here in the Philippines, we have a lot of gay teachers, especially in universities, and no one minds at all, least of all parents. Note that college here starts at 16 which in the US is still around sophomore High School.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jul 10, 2008 1:00 PM GMT
    I had a track coach who was gay. I didnt know it at the time...no one did. He kept quiet about it with all of the students and most of the other coaches. He had two teachers and one other coach that were his friends and they knew.

    I only found out because one of those coaches is my cousin and he coached me in football. He didnt say anything to me until after I was a senior, and he told me he'd kill me if I told anyone..which of course I never did.

    I think he handled it pretty well, he found a few people he could trust and let them know, so he wasnt totally alone, but then kept the rest of it to himself. In truth, it's no one's business who you're banging at night. It wasn't like there were a lot of school functions where teachers and coaches were briging their wives of husbands, so it never came up whether he had a boyfriend or not.

    Anyway, thats all I know about it really. He was a good coach...mean as hell sometimes. He made me throw up a lot, but thats what track coaches do. He also taught all the 'trade' classes...metal shop, engine repair and wood shop...which is kinda funny.

    so, I'm not sure whether that helps you or not. Tell or don't tell...I would support you either way. It's a rare individual who dedicates themselves to making kids better people.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jul 10, 2008 1:13 PM GMT
    There are a couple of books I have read by Dan Woog. I think they are called "Jocks" and "Jocks 2". About gay athletes, some who became coaches. Not all experiences were pleasant.

    To be honest if you live in a conservative area it could be tough to come out right now. Some straight people have very irrational views on gays. They think that kids can be "converted" by a gay person, as if sexual orientation is a religion.

    I don't know what age of pupil you coach, but the older they are the more likely they will accept you. Teens these days are much more exposed to gay people then they used to be (certainly compared to the 1970's when I was a teen). So it is not the students but the parents that may react negatively.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jul 10, 2008 1:43 PM GMT
    I hate that it would be okay for you to coach if you were straight but once they found out you were gay than your not suitable to coach because you may "touch" the kids!!! Why do some people think gay guys are child molesters? Ridiculous.icon_evil.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jul 10, 2008 2:03 PM GMT
    I well understand your situation. I coached cross country and track in a small conservative community. I also taught social studies so I was the classic combination of teacher/coach ala social science. I always conducted myself in a professional manner and made sure that I did not give any reason for parents, colleagues, or administrators to suspect I was gay. It wasn't easy being surrounded by good looking high energy high school boys and there were a few times when I suspected some of my athletes were gay by their manner towards me, but I kept that distance one should have between teacher/coach and student/athlete. So as far as the athletes and community were concerned, I was just the single guy on staff who hadn't yet found the "right girl." We can only hope that attitudes change over time, even in small communities.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jul 10, 2008 2:08 PM GMT
    As long as you expect to turn the shower session into an impromptu porno session and remain a figure others can look up to than you should clear of most worries. But keep your sexuality to yourself, befriend whomever you want to, then if and when the student body either acknowledges your gay or lord forbid uses it against you, you'll have a safety net of credibility. It's not so much closeting yourself, as it is not over publicizing your sexuality. It pays off when people start to question your credibility as whatever.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jul 10, 2008 2:12 PM GMT
    gymguy1 saidI hate that it would be okay for you to coach if you were straight but once they found out you were gay than your not suitable to coach because you may "touch" the kids!!! Why do some people think gay guys are child molesters? Ridiculous.icon_evil.gif


    ABSOLUTELY!!!! I had one of my Asst Football Coaches in High who was "closeted", I think I was the only one who knew back then about him, but I do understand the "risk" that could come in to play. I personally was a Security Guard for a High School and MOST of every one knew and it wasn't a big deal, however it was always in the back of my head. I would suggest to play it out as best as you feel comfortable with it.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jul 10, 2008 3:25 PM GMT
    You cant control others behavior, only your own. So just conduct yourself in a proper manner and stop worrying. If at some time something comes up, you will deal with it then. Your good behavior will be your best defense. But dont make your life miserable worrying about what you cant control now. Learn to meditate and calm yourself, if that is necessary.
  • MichVBPlayer2...

    Posts: 132

    Jul 10, 2008 3:25 PM GMT
    JBE60 saidThere are a couple of books I have read by Dan Woog. I think they are called "Jocks" and "Jocks 2". About gay athletes, some who became coaches. Not all experiences were pleasant.



    Yeah, I've read the Jocks book but not the second one.

    Thank you all for your help. It's just good to bounce ideas off other people. I'm sure lots of the kids know I'm gay and that's not what worries me. I know to them, they don't care. Heck, one of my girls is neighbors with two of my best gay friends.

    I think in the end I'll just look for an appropriate time to tell the other coach I work with. We're very close and I've developed a friendship with him. I'd rather he hear it from me then from another person if something were ever to come up.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jul 10, 2008 3:28 PM GMT
    That's a delicate situation, MichVBPlayer28. Last summer I worked with 50 high school kids in a close supervisory position at a summer residential camp. I kept my sexuality to myself - not hidden, but not flaunted - not because of what the kids might think/feel, but out of concern for what their parents might think - these kids were from really tiny conservative rural towns with limited exposure to gays, for the most part.

    I made a point to make sure at least one of my close co-workers and my boss knew I was gay, though - ironically, more as protection against any worries of the parents of my female students.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jul 10, 2008 3:28 PM GMT
    I just looked at your profile. I know I am old, when the coaches look like kids to me. ... icon_evil.gif ... icon_lol.gif
  • MichVBPlayer2...

    Posts: 132

    Jul 10, 2008 3:32 PM GMT
    Caslon4000 saidI just looked at your profile. I know I am old, when the coaches look like kids to me. ... icon_evil.gif ... icon_lol.gif


    Oh come on. I know I'm young but 25 isn't that young. Plus that picture of me is 3 years old so I can see why you'd think I'm a lil baby.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jul 10, 2008 3:34 PM GMT
    MichVBPlayer28 said[quote][cite]Caslon4000 said[/cite]I just looked at your profile. I know I am old, when the coaches look like kids to me. ... icon_evil.gif ... icon_lol.gif

    Oh come on. I know I'm young but 25 isn't that young. Plus that picture of me is 3 years old so I can see why you'd think I'm a lil baby.


    My comment is a reflection on me, not you. I am sure you are totally studly looking in person. ... icon_lol.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jul 10, 2008 3:41 PM GMT
    I have taught and coached in high school for 18 years. Funny thing, this has never come up. We are there to be professional,to instruct and conduct. Sexual orientation has nothing to do with swimming, soccer, football or the chess team. Stick to the curriculum and the community can't complain. Blab to a co-worker and you do risk it getting out to everyone. Be careful, you won't find a more homo-phobic group of people than most teenage boys.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jul 10, 2008 3:49 PM GMT
    Well, if parents are worried about their kids, they ought to keep an eye on their 30-something female heterosexual teachers. There seems to be a chronic outbreak lately of female teachers having sex with their male teenage students. A talking point to keep in mind if you come out and things become contentious.

    But I understand your fear. People, especially in conservative areas, can be completely irrational and vindictive when it comes to handling gays who work with children. While it would be brave for you to come out at work, no one could fault you for keeping it discreet in your situation. However, I would have a plan B in place in case someone finds out and decides to make it an issue.
  • TheSoccerGuy4

    Posts: 3

    Jul 12, 2008 6:36 PM GMT
    Well, I can completely understand where you're coming from. Here's my story in a nutshell.

    I grew up in the DC metro area and came out my senior year of HS. I went to college in po-dunk North Carolina on a soccer scholarship. I went back to the closet for the first year, so that everyone could get to know me for me before they jumped to any conclusions. I came out slowly thereafter and was out by junior year.

    After graduating, I took a job as a HS spanish teacher and varsity boys and girls soccer coach. When I took this job, I figured it'd be best to head back to the closet. I had become comfortable being out and just being myself, but knew that I needed to lay low because of where I lived. Several times, my boys wanted to practice with their shirts off, but to protect myself in case of any possible unforeseen issues. Before I started teaching/coach at the school, a female softball coach had an affair with a student, making my situation worse. Had that not have happened, I may have spoken up.

    From what I could tell, the students, parents, and coworkers at the school loved me. I was out to some of my coworkers, some of whose kids I coached. They felt it best not to publicize my lifestyle, but had no issues with it. But that in mind... I think it's all based on personal situation. If I would have stayed for another year or two, I would have come out.... as I couldn't take living 2 lives... Do what works for you...
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jul 12, 2008 7:53 PM GMT
    I worked in education for three years and was openly gay. I found at first I was guarding my sexuality. But noticed that my hetero colleagues were quite open about their sexuality. There is an acceptable level at which educators can broadcast their sexuality. Teachers have pictures of their spouses and kids on their desks, or mention something about their family all the time. As long as you do the same at the same level there should be no problem.

    More than any other time in their lives, kids need to interact with queer role models. Things might not be easy at first for you, and you may be subject to a double standard. But your presence will mean a lot to your students. Queer students have a role model. Hetero students will have a real live homosexual who treats them decently in their lives, which hopefully help them grow into tolerant adults.