Teacher Of The Year Quits, Cites Homophobia As Reason

The 2022 Kentucky teacher of the year quit his job, citing a lack of LGBTQ support and homophobia as his reasons.

By Erika Hanson | Published

National Teacher Unions Have Lost 200,000 Members

Kentucky teacher

No one is immune in the severe warnings coming from education experts about the impending mass exodus of educators from the teacher workforce. Possibly furthering these claims, it seems even the coveted award of Teacher of the Year wasn’t enough from stopping a Kentucky teacher from leaving the profession he once loved behind. NBC News reports on the story of Willie Carver Jr, 2022’s state winner of the coveted Teacher of the Year award who left the profession after claiming homophobia as the major reason for his departure.

Carver had been an educator for 12 years. In the last several of them, he had come out as openly gay. Even after being warned that he would be “crucified” for being openly gay at his most recent job teaching English at a high school in the small town of Montgomery the Kentucky teacher was dedicated to the job he was enthusiastic about. Up until things turned hostile, by his account, leading to his recent resignation.

Now, Carver claims that his treatment by school administrators was the reason he decided to leave. Over the last few years of being out as gay, the Kentucky teacher says he could not sit back and watch the district he taught in continue to stifle efforts to support his identity, and that of LGBTQ students at his school. Describing the practice as “death by a thousand cuts,” Carver detailed just a few of the ways school officials and his peers laid out homophobic actions. 

Of these prejudiced acts, the Kentucky teacher described book bannings, and protection of students found guilty of enacting vindictive behavior against LGBTQ support. Carver claims that his district proudly banned books from any LGBTQ author. In another instance, he claims the school did nothing to punish students who were found tearing down rainbow pride posters in the school. Even more, he says the school defended their destruction. Additionally, he mentioned the school’s efforts to shut down a student-led poll in which students were attempting to raise awareness about the growing issue through a LGBTQ inclusion climate poll. 

Above all, Carver said the most urgent element that brought the Kentucky teacher to leave his job was his and LGBTQ students’ overall blatant harassment. The teacher of the year says that parents were beginning to show up in droves to school board meetings, claiming he and some students were groomers. Grooming has been a term used seemingly without restraint this year, as outraged parents and political rhetoric center around a notion that LGBTQ supporters are grooming children with gender ideology, making them gay. 

Not stopping there, the Kentucky teacher asserted that social media users continued berating him online, posting pictures of him and LGBTQ students. Slandering them, he says countless homophobic comments were shared. Furthermore, Carver says that the school knew about this, and did nothing to try to stop or hinder the attacks against him and the group of students. 

Kentucky teacher

NBC News reached out to the Kentucky teacher’s superintendent with questions about Carver’s allegations. Refusing to respond to the questions, the school leader wrote back that Carver was a “wonderful” teacher. For the students who support the teacher, he will still be reaching out to youth in need as he announced he will be working in a student support capacity with the University of Kentucky. 

Carver is likely not alone, as among the massive amounts of teachers leaving the profession for various reasons like stress, burnout, and lack of support and pay, LGBTQ discrimination is another leading factor in the mass exodus. Nominated by peers and students, this Kentucky teacher was chosen out of more than 500 nominees to become 2022’s Kentucky teacher of the year. Now, he is no longer in the classroom, as he leaves behind his dream job thanks to a torn country fighting over LGBTQ identities.