Gay Kentucky Teacher of the Year Quitting after Too Much 'Discrimination, Heartache'

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday June 24, 2022

Willie Carver Jr. tetifyign before congress in May
Willie Carver Jr. tetifyign before congress in May  (Source:Screencap/C-SPAN/NEA/YouTube)

An openly gay Kentucky teacher who was lauded as 2022's "Teacher of the Year" is departing his job instructing students at the K-12 levels saying he's faced too much anti-LGBTQ+ hate and discrimination, according to political news outlet The Hill.

The Hill detailed that Willie Carver Jr. had been a K-12 teacher for 17 years, but now he "will assume a new role in student support services at the University of Kentucky."

Local newspaper the Lexington Herald Leader reported that Carver had posted about his move, and his reasons for it, on Facebook.

Saying it was "not an easy decision" and that he had "cried quite a few times trying to make it over the past few months," Carver explained in the post that "ultimately, I have always wanted to be in the place where I can most make a difference in the lives of the next generation. I believe that UK is where I can do this."

But that was only part of the story. Carver's post then revealed the rest.

"I also increasingly find that, as a queer person in K-12 education, I have been unable to do that work without facing discrimination, heartache, and being a part of systems that cause harm," Carver added, "though I am immensely proud of my brilliant, hardworking, and fierce colleagues who have and continue to change that system in defense of students."

Carver, in comments to the Herald Leader, explained that the country's increasingly anti-LGBTQ+ political climate had made his life and his job that much harder.

"The national rhetoric is turned up," he said, "and LGBTQ teachers bear the weight of a lot of hatred that catalyzes the vitriol. It's tiring."

On a more local level, he said, "vocal anti-LGBTQ extremists at school board meetings (and on social media) have been personally attacking me and my former students."

This is not the first time Carver has spoken out about the anti-LGBTQ+ animus that's finding its way into America's school system. The Herald Leader recalled that "In May, Carver told a Congressional subcommittee that he faced discrimination as a gay teacher and that hatred was the norm in schools."

"The panel was examining the wave of race and LGBTQ censorship engulfing America's K-12 classrooms," the story clarified.

According to Carver, the school's administration had not been supportive. In a statement, Montgomery County Superintendent Matthew Thompson offered boilerplate sentiments, saying, "Mr. Carver is a wonderful English and French teacher. We wish him well in his new endeavor."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.