November 24, 2017

Bart Birdsall | Movers & Shakers 2006

Pride and Protest

2006_Bart_Birdsall

Bart Birdsall always wanted to be a media specialist but talked himself into becoming a ‘real teacher’ first. Of all his advanced degrees, though, his MLS is the one he marched for in graduation ceremonies. ‘I finally have a job I love and respect,’ he says.

Respect and empathy define Birdsall’s insistence on supporting his students and standing up for his beliefs. Linda Alexander, of the University of South Florida SLIS, says that as a teen Birdsall ‘suffered shame and self-hatred that he does not want our teens to experience.’ From holding an April ‘Breaking the Silence’ event to helping students start a Gay-Straight Alliance, Birdsall puts his principles into practice.

Recently, a display of books by GLBT authors at the West Gate Regional Library was removed after the Hillsborough County Commission voted against promoting gay pride at any county facility. Birdsall sent emails from his home account to the library’s director, protesting this censorship, and was warned by the school board to keep his political opinions away from work. Two days later, he stood with a bullhorn in front of the public library where a county commission meeting was underway, reading aloud from books taken off the display. (A lawsuit is pending against county commissioners.)

Birdsall says, ‘My freedom of speech means more to me than any job…and some gay teen may be watching. I will stand here and read for her or him, so she/he sees an adult who stands firm and isn’t afraid to be openly gay.’

Vitals

 

Current Position Media Specialist, School District of Hillsborough County, Tampa, FL
Degrees MLS, University of South Florida, 2005; M.A., Education, University of Florida, 1996; M.A., Germanic Languages and Literature, University of Florida, 1993
Passions Opera and Pilates

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