Mom worried about gym teacher in locker room

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Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

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DEAR AMY: My seventh-grade daughter's female gym teacher is openly gay. None of the parents or kids has a problem with this. The issue is that she observes the girls changing into and out of their gym clothes, and my daughter and many of her peers feel very uncomfortable having a lesbian watch them walk around in their underwear. I'm afraid to say anything because I worry that my daughter will be given a "special area" to change, and it will make her feel awkward. I understand that seventh-graders need supervision in the locker room, but it seems to me the school should know that it may not be appropriate to have a lesbian in the locker room with young girls! By the way, the teacher has never behaved unprofessionally -- nor is anyone worried that she might -- it is simply an issue of discomfort. What's the right answer that respects everyone involved?

-- Concerned Mom

DEAR CONCERNED: You might start this conversation by letting your daughter know that there is a likelihood some of her fellow students at school or on sports teams are also lesbians, and that in this environment, along with trusting her instincts, she also has to trust other people (gay and straight) to have integrity.

You seem to think that because this teacher is a lesbian, she may also be attracted to -- or be an unhealthy presence -- for girls. Judging by the preponderance of recent alarming news reports of improper sexual relationships between teachers and students, a student is much more likely to be hit on by a heterosexual teacher than a gay one.

If your daughter feels vulnerable (or if this teacher has acted inappropriately), then you should definitely take this issue to the school. However, you say this is not the case, so if your daughter feels self-conscious, she should change her clothes in a bathroom stall. (I assume the locker room has stalls.)