I was 21 years old when I first began teaching and was still figuring out my identity and sexuality. I was the typical over-achiever, trying to be perfect and in terms of sexuality, fit the mould of what I thought my parents expected and what was deemed then socially acceptable.
When I came out my colleagues were wonderful. I was well supported by leadership however I struggled with the parent community as the 'rumor spread' that I was was in a same-sex relationship.
An event that stands out was my classroom being vandalized and hateful discriminatory words scrawled across it. The school responded by acting quickly and protected me as much as possible. Hard to believe but this was Christchurch in the 90's. During that time I refused to be defined by my personal relationships, I surrounded myself by accepting people and I was selective about who I came out to. I think it's fine to protect yourself and take time until you're comfortable.
Today I'm more sure of myself and I've found my voice in terms of my sexuality. Today I am proud of who I am, including my blended same-sex family. I work in an inclusive, supportive environment where no-one bats an eyelid at sexuality. Today I speak confidently at conferences and mention my son and partner, Olivia without a pause to judge the reaction.
Times have changed and the voices of those who have issues with LGBTQ people have quietened and when you're ready you'll find your voice.
Lisa lives in Auckland with her wonderful partner Olivia and 9 year old step-son with an exciting wee addition to the family joining them this Christmas. She counts herself lucky to have an amazing group of friends and loves working in an inclusive and supportive environment.