In Against a White Sky, Laurie Stapleton reveals her experiences with honesty and humor as a gay high school teacher in an "All-American" city. Having spent most of her young adult life in Santa Cruz, California — a beach town accepting of its large lesbian community — Laurie relocates to the more conservative San Joaquin Valley to enroll in an accelerated teacher credentialing program. There, Laurie discovers that she is the only woman who regularly (well, always) wears slacks. She decides she’d better change the way she dresses, walks and talks to feel socially comfortable — and maybe even safe. Laurie becomes certified to teach public high school within a year. Mindful of recent bouts with poverty and low self-esteem, she accepts the first teaching offer she receives — a public high school deeper in the heart of the valley, in a city voted "All-American." Her relocation doesn’t sit too well with Laurie’s girlfriend back in Santa Cruz, who says to Laurie, "You don’t look like you anymore." Despite her struggle to sway students’ and teachers’ attention from her sexual identity, they seem to "know" anyway, as evidenced by homophobic slurs she hears in the school halls, and snickers from the student-athletes she coaches. Eventually she asks herself the hard questions: why did she choose to live and teach in a town in which she is at best ignored, and at worse harassed, because of her sexual orientation? What is the meaning behind the irony that, as she helps her students discover their voices, she is silencing her own?
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