Tim Speyer has spent 30 of the last 40 years of his life in various aspects of childhood education. The last 12 years he has had the privilege of teaching art in the public schools at the middle school level. Most often, his own work consists of cloth mache creatures, multimedia boxes, stone carvings, and handbuilt ceramics. Of his piece for the speaking volumes exhibit, Tim says; “A 1992 event was the genesis this project. I was a third grade teacher in rural Montana. An incident happened in the classroom where I turned a misbehaving child around in his seat. This child, at that moment, perceived that he had been “inappropriately touched in a sexual manner.” Reporting the incident to the bus driver, this allegation eventually led to an investigation by the school district into whether these charges were indeed true. This was exasperated by the “perception” in the school and community that I was gay. As a life-long heterosexual male, I knew the charges and incident were totally fabricated and without merit. Even though all allegations were eventually dismissed, I was told that the perception (that I was gay) was just as harmful as being gay, and it was in my best interests to work diligently to change that perception. This was my first experience encountering discrimination and bigotry in the Montana Public Schools. This project is an attempt to focus on much of the bigotry I encountered in my job as a schoolteacher over the years. I find it sad that colleagues in my school system still keep their sexual orientation secret for fear of retribution from staff, parents, and students.”
Students from Helena High School who participated in this project, and whose work is a part of this book, include:
Metta Hallian, Rachael Jones, Katrina Fisher, Lindsey Redmond, Sara Gonzales, and Aaron West. Teachers include myself, Angie Susag, and anonymous individuals who fear having their names publicly associated with this project.