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From Hidden to Comfortable: My Journey as an LGBTQ+ Early Childhood Educator
Not My Time Yet
My name is Milo Becker and my pronouns are They/Them. I have been working as a teacher in early childhood education for about three years now between Pennsylvania and Florida.
I only came out as a nonbinary individual in 2020, during my first year of teaching in Pennsylvania. Although I was out to my friends, I chose not to come out at work out of fear of what others would think of me. My small town’s culture was fairly close-minded to individuals of the LGBTQ+ community, which made it hard to gauge who would take my identity positively and who would take it negatively. All these different questions rattled in my head: “What if my director thinks I’m unfit to teach?” or “What if my family thinks I’m trying to push stuff onto their children?” I decided to keep my true identity hidden over the two years I worked there. In reflection, was it sad that I couldn’t be who I was? Yes. Now, I just look back at that experience and think: It just was not my time.
A Big Move
I moved from Pennsylvania to Florida in July of 2022.
By the time this publishes, I will be close to my one-year anniversary! Understandably, I had some nerves about moving to Florida as an individual of the LGBTQ+ community due to the rising tension of the state’s political outlook on the community.
Despite the nerves, I started to work for Bright Horizons at Windermere. My new school has a staff that is inviting and welcoming. I felt respected as a teacher. I was hesitant to share my pronouns because that would expose my nonbinary identity. As I got to know different teachers, I realized it was my time to share who I was, and what pronouns I use. The responses were simple and quick: “Okay cool, I will try my best but correct me if I’m wrong”, one of my co-teachers gave me a high five as if it were a small celebration of me coming out to them.
Little Things Make a Big Difference
I grew more comfortable in my school as an early childhood education teacher who was also part of the LGBTQ+ community. There are two moments I want to highlight that truly resonate with me.
First, there was a parent who dropped off their child and waved goodbye while saying, “Have a wonderful day ladies!” At the moment, I did not register what this parent said because I was getting her child settled for his morning snack. When the parent returned for pick up, she said, “Teacher Milo, I’m sorry that I said ladies this morning, I should have said y’all or something”. I responded, “Thank you so much for your consideration, that means a lot to me. I never asked, ‘What are your pronouns?’ ” We went on to share our pronouns as the parent gathered her child’s belongings.
Second, I had a great heart-to-heart moment with my director. Once I shared who I was, my director iconically said, “Be who you are. Keep those in your life who see you the way you are”. My director went on to break down all my nerves about who will accept me or not because in the end, I can only make myself happy, but it is a blessing to have others who make me happy along the way. My current director is a person who makes me feel safe, cared for, and welcomed in our school.
I want to take the opportunity to shed light on what is going on in my state of Florida with education and the LGBTQ+ community. On July 1, 2022, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis put into effect the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The National Education Association states, “The “Don’t Say Gay Law” states that its purpose is to “prohibit[ ] classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in certain grade levels or in a specified manner.” This bill can cause families, children, and educators of the LBGTQ+ community to feel scared to be who they are. I want to say to those individuals who are hiding their true selves: Let’s be who we are now, use our voices to lift up others, and spread love.