I recently was listening to NPR, as the good liberal I am tends to do. There was an article about the LGBT community being in the closet at work. The thing was how much of this article spoke to me. I am not a lesbian nor bisexual or transgender though I count myself as a fervent ally. No what reminded me of the situation was that at my last two places of employment (and some before that) I have been in a different kind of closet.
In the Pagan community we call it the "broom closet". I have never been especially in the broom closet. I have always let my friends know that I was Pagan and been more than willing to inform people about what that meant to me and in general. But when it comes to the people who control my paycheck I have been more reticent. But it goes beyond that there is a certain closeness I have had with coworkers when I was working as a lifeguard so even if I did not announce myself to the upper management I would still share my beliefs with coworkers often.
At my last two jobs even with the closeness I felt with my coworkers at the daycare I was working at I never felt I could tell them. Why does this matter? Well as the article I was listening to pointed out, when you are in any type of closet you are by definition hiding from someone. There is a barrier between you and the rest of the world. This makes a difference when you are not in the majority because people tend to assume the majority. For me this means people often think I believe in something that I don't. My religion is in fact an important part of me and to have someone make assumptions about it that are wrong is uncomfortable to me at the least.
When I was working as a telemarketer recently I had two instances of people making assumptions about how I lived my religious life on the phone. Both left me feeling a little hollow because I know if I had not let them assume that I was Christian I would not have made the sale. Having to lie about something so basic in order to do my job is icky at the least and actually kept me up a couple of nights.
Now at the daycare this was not the same issue but I am always afraid of parents finding out my religious leanings. It may be just the bad stories young pagans hear when they are first exploring their faith but I fear a parent jumping into a satanic panic upon hearing that I worship something other than an Abrahamic deity. This means when I am around kids I don't want to let anything slip which means I never tell anyone anything about my religious orientation. This isn't as big of a deal I don't feel so much that I'm living a lie though anytime that really indoctrinated kid comes to talk about Jesus with me always gives me pause.
My thoughts continue on this line. If I have decided to be in education for the rest of my life have I put this as my default setting. And this makes me think of those who are trying to work in the education field who are part of other minorities that are considered by some to be "morally questionable." Is society doomed to keep people silent. At what point does religious and moral oppression end. and what do we do about it?
Right now my only answer is to know I have friends to confide in and continue to pursue my dreams of teaching. I stand in solidarity with those who are also working in silence and say only I don't know your specific situation but I understand.