Robert Parlin is a high school teacher in Newton, Massachusetts. His relationship with the city began in 1987 as a student teacher at Newton North High School before accepting a position at Newton South High School in 1988, where he has worked ever since. As an educator, Robert has extensive experience teaching U.S. history, but currently teaches 9th grade world history, as well as a senior elective class titled "Race, Class, and Gender." Since his arrival at Newton South in the late '80s, Robert has been a staunch advocate for LGBT rights, educational inclusion, and positive role-modeling for LGBT youth; he founded the first Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) in a public school, modeled after the first GSA in the United States at Concord (MA) Academy. The GSA has maintained the acronym, but recently changed it's name to Gender and Sexuality Awareness to promote inclusivity and recognition of non-binary and gender non-conforming youth. He discusses his experience as an openly gay educator, the establishment of the GSA, changes the club has seen over 30 years, and the importance of representation.
Interviewed by Kathleen Hennrikus
Recorded at the Newton Free Library in Newton, MA on April 11, 2019
Newton Talks is an oral history project for the city of Newton. In 2016 we began by interviewing veterans with a connection to Newton. Since then, we have also begun interviewing immigrants living in Newton and long-term residents of the city. Going forward, we hope to include a broad range of voices in the project in order to collect, preserve, and share the stories and experiences of Newtonians of all backgrounds.
Newton Talks is made possible through the joint efforts of Historic Newton, the Newton Free Library, and the Newton Senior Center.