Kentucky’s 2022 Teacher of the Year leaving classroom over anti-LGBTQ discrimination

Kentucky’s current teacher of the year is leaving the classroom due to discrimination and lack of support because he is gay.

Willie Carver Jr., the 2022 teacher of the year, is quitting teaching after 17 years to take a job at the University of Kentucky in student support services, and he will also be an academic advisor at the Gatton College for Business and Economics, reported the Lexington Herald-Leader.

“This was not an easy decision; I have cried quite a few times trying to make it over the past few months,” Carver said in a Facebook post. “But, 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.”

Carver, who had been teaching high school in Montgomery County, specifically cited anti-LGBTQ discrimination for his decision to leave teaching.

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“I also increasingly find that, as a queer person in K-12 education,” Carver said, “I have been unable to do that work without facing discrimination, heartache, and being a part of systems that cause harm, 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 told a congressional subcommittee in May that he had faced discrimination on the job and that hatred was common in schools, and he told the newspaper that “vocal anti-LGBTQ extremists at school board meetings (and on social media) have been personally attacking me and my former students.”

“The national rhetoric is turned up, and LGBTQ teachers bear the weight of a lot of hatred that catalyzes the vitriol,” Carver said. “It’s tiring.”