Hi, all!  This coming school year I am going to be a first-year English teacher at a high school in a small school district in Southwest Missouri.  I've been working on setting up my classroom (yes, already... can you tell I'm excited?), and I've run into a personal dilemma.  Among the potential poster choices in my collection is a theatrical one-sheet for the film adaptation of The Golden Compass.  I'm not particularly fond of the film version, but I really like the books, and I kind of want to put the poster up in my classroom.  I'm just not sure if it will be inviting more trouble than it's worth, due to the negative publicity it has received in fundamentalist religious circles.

A little more background on the situation...  I've already been working at this particular school district as a paraprofessional for the last four years, so I am not a complete unknown quantity to them.  I am sort of half in/half out about being an atheist.  There are certain colleagues who I have chosen to confide in because we are also friends, but others who I keep more at arms' length on the subject.  There are also those who have sort of figured it out over the past four years based on things I have said (or not said) or done (or not done).  Moreover, I have actually had students who have figured it out from those cues as well.  I've even had a couple students approach me about possibly being a faculty sponsor for a Secular Student Alliance chapter if they can get enough interest to get it off the ground.

I'm all for maintaining a professional learning environment, but I also have a strong urge to maintain a sense of personal authenticity, and it has really been bothering me lately that my colleagues who are believers feel free to wear their religion on their sleeves (sometimes even crossing the line of separation of church and state) while I feel a need to hide my lack thereof in the shadows, as if it is something to be ashamed of.  Truthfully, I'm more scared of the reaction from parents than from students or colleagues, but that fear is still present, and part of me almost wants to step up and demystify the entire notion of atheists that many of my students have.  As has been said by others, once someone finds out that they know and respect someone who is an atheist, it can change opinions and assumptions, so there is that...

Finally, I fully intend to have the His Dark Materials trilogy on the bookshelf in my classroom to be available for students to check out and read.  So it seems to stand to reason that having it on my bookshelf is as good a justification as any for putting the poster on my wall.  But still there are lingering doubts...

What are your thoughts?

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