In an earlier post I mentioned a man who had left the early childhood profession because of his negative experiences. That post focused on No Touch policies. Here is that same man's wish list he compiled. In it you get a sense of his frustrations and an insight to the many inequitable experiences he had. Now while it may be a bit lengthy, I feel it is important for us to take a little of our time to read and try to understand what has troubled him. He took the time to compile this list so it's the very least we can do. This is his 'Wish List'.
- I wish I could complain about pay, vacation, time off and worry about my students. The normal things that all teachers complain about. Instead of having to worry about who is going to stab me in the back or what I am doing wrong or what everyone is thinking of me.
- I wish my co-workers treated me equally and not by my gender or gossiped as if they had a problem. I wish they came to me.
- I wish I could focus on doing my job instead of having to worry about the fact I might be fired for simply allowing a child to sit on my lap during story time, changing their diaper when needed, returning a hug with a REAL one. And the rule about not touching children is enforced for males but when a female does it they get away with it. Much like how in many countries women are beat and if a woman beats a man she gets punished.
- I wish my director would step up and defend their employees when a parent says they are concerned about the male in the room and do not want them in there or they will take their children out, instead of blaming it on the employee who is doing their job perfectly and can clearly see that all the children like him and is an exceptional teacher. If the parent has a comfortability problem, they should tell them to talk to me.
- I wish I did not have to do over 100 interviews and have to end up with a job that is 100 miles from home, pays only pennies and I am forced to think, “Hey it’s a job.”
- I wish I was treated equally, required to do every job my female co-workers are expected to do, and not have my duties separated because of my gender.
- I wish I could complain about changing diapers, potty training, tantrums, spit ups, and all the usual things that infant toddler teachers-age 3 deal with. Instead I'm being put with the older groups because of the excuse of “It's for your own protection,” even though my niche is with the younger ones and I struggle so much with the older ones.
- I wish parents and ECE administrators could see or know that sexual abuse is not about gender. It is about control.
- I wish that ECE administrators would stop firing males particularly for things that could get them sued at other places. I also wish that it was not so easy for them to hide.
- I wish I did not have to worry about getting fired for nothing.
- I wish I was not forced to change careers because I cannot find a preschool that will hire me like they would any other teacher and require them to do all aspects of their job. Especially when my heart is where it's supposed to be.
- I wish directors when hiring will see the hardships male teachers go through and give them a chance and not be so strict on hiring processes due to it being a special circumstance.
- I wish more directors and preschool teachers looked back at how women were treated in the 20s up to sometimes even now and how they had/have to fight discrimination and sexual harassment to get their rights heard and met to be treated equally.
- I wish I did not have to delve into alcohol, food and have my life torn from me and have people tell me to get off my lazy ass and get a job, when I have been through over 100 interviews and I am not hired simply because I am a male and not how I dress, etc.
- I wish I did not have the paranoia I do of wondering if a job will be like the others where I was mistreated because of my gender and end up quitting sooner. Only to find out that that place was the perfect place.
- I wish I did not have to spend over $1000 on gas for my car along with maintenance to drive to interviews which are sometimes over 100 miles away when there are jobs nearby my home, but will not hire me because I am male
- I wish administrators would tell me the truth about why they would not hire me instead of being passive aggressive about it.
- I wish the ECE community would look at the deeper aspects of why males do not go into the field. It is not about the pay.
- I wish I could concentrate on exchanging ideas and utilizing them with my students.
- I wish I could use all the talents and abilities that I have as an amazing teacher instead of having to worry about job security for doing nothing more than engaging, bonding, and doing everything that my female co-workers do and that all preschool teachers are expected to do.
- I wish I could experience the rare magic that some male teachers who have found a place that only I could wish for have.
- I wish I could focus on doing what I love, and not be forced to do what I hate.
- I wish I was allowed to break the stereotype, instead of being pushed down and looked at as second class.
- I wish I did not have to worry about not being hired because of my gender or my weight or how scary I may look.
- I wish I did not have to go into an interview wondering if I will be able to do all my duties, in other words, being treated equally.
Now while there are some repetitions in this list, perhaps that indicates that certain issues are more prominent or of paramount importance to this individual. None of us know exactly what he has been through, but can try to understand the general frustrations expressed within those lines.
This is one man's attempt to put into words what he has been through. We can wonder at how many others are out there going through similar experiences who don't speak up. Perhaps someone else out there will be inspired by this man's willingness to share to speak up themselves.
It would be healthy for the entire profession for such matters to be out in the open rather than hidden away. This discussion needs to be open, but it also needs to be widespread so for that reason I am asking something that I rarely do; for you to share this story and spread the discussion.