- This study investigated factors that influence career choice and
development for gay male school teachers. Ten gay educators
participated in the investigation. Data collection methods involved
two semi-structured personal interviews and one structured telephone
interview for a total of 30 sampling units. Data analysis procedures
included reviewing audiotapes, reading transcriptions, browsing
documents, coding text units, consulting with mentors and peers,
comparing coding categories with previous literature and research, and
reflecting on emerging relationships among the data.
Major findings relate to identity development, social and family
attitudes, secrecy and disclosure, and career motivation. All of the
participants described experiences of (a) forming a vocational identity
as a school teacher and a sexual identity as a gay man, and (b)
blending or merging these primary self-concepts through occupational expressions of advocacy and activism, gender role flexibility, or both. The data further indicate that (a) social bias against public education has a negative influence on career maintenance and performance, (b) family respect for school teachers has a positive influence on career choice, and (c) special case strategies help gay men circumvent the negative influence of social bias against them to enter the teaching profession.
Most of the participating teachers revealed their primary reliance on "implicitly out" identity management strategies (Griffin, 1992) to alleviate fears of discrimination, public accusation, job loss, and impaired credibility. Additional qualitative evidence suggests that the need for gay self-disclosure varies with the potential for vocational self-expression in the teaching profession. In the course of their teaching careers, all of the participants reported either (a) compensating for some developmental lag or deficit experienced during childhood or adolescence, or (b) partially satisfying their developmental need to father children.
Hypothetical associations among these major findings form the trilateral foundation of an emerging theory that more specifically explains factors that influence the career choice and development of gay male school teachers. This three-part framework reflects the interacting influences of identity integration, self-expression, and self-actualization and reciprocal effects of and on the teaching profession.
The theory emerging from this investigation has practical applications
for counselor and teacher education, as well as for career counseling.