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GAYLE BRICKERT-ALBRECHT

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Birth Date: 1956
Birth Place: Tenino, WA

Honored By

Donor names:   Erin Durban
Date submitted: December 15, 2008
Gift: Students Only - 4x4 paver
Location on plaza map: B4
Areas of Achievement: Activism, Education, Science
 
Gayle Brickert-Albrecht is an outstanding role model for women in science and education as well as a dedicated parent of two sons, Griffin and Dashiell. She was born in the small town of Tenino, Washington in 1956. After serving as student body president and graduating class salutatorian from Tenino High School, she was the first in her family to attend college. Gayle received basketball scholarships to Centralia Community College and Louis-Clarke State College, from which she graduated with degrees in science. Applying her degree, Gayle worked in the mines of Arizona after college, but ultimately, she was drawn to teaching chemistry.

Gayle attributes her interest in chemistry to a high school teacher who allowed her a trip to the chemical storage. She was immediately amazed: “It was like a brightly lit scene with music playing in the background.” Following the lead of her role models, Gayle has been an educator in the Tucson Unified School District since 1983. Most of her tenure has been as a chemistry teacher at Tucson High School, where she is currently the Science Department chair. The name “Ms. B-A” invokes both fear and respect in THS students; she has a reputation for high standards and many students have returned to tell Gayle that, more than any other class in high school, her chemistry class prepared them for taking college courses. As students in her classes and the many clubs she has advised (the ARCUS Gay-Straight Alliance, National Honor Society, and the Pastafarian Club) know, Gayle also has an incredible sense of humor.

Although Gayle undoubtedly had a tremendous impact on the lives of her students, if asked, she will say her proudest accomplishment was raising two sons. She and her former partner Renaté practiced unapologetic and courageous “out” parenting. They were on the forefront of the so-called “Lesbian Baby Boom” and remain, more than two decades later, the only couple in Arizona to have been granted joint legal custody of their children. Their family was featured in Women in Love: Portraits of Lesbian Mothers & Their Families (1998) and on the cover of nationally-distributed LAMBDA Legal Magazine. Gayle, Renaté and their sons were also founding members of Tucson’s Rainbow Families.

Aside from the many barriers Gayle broke down as a woman in male-dominated fields and a lesbian in hetero-patriarchal society, she also practiced explicit feminism. For instance, in the early 1980s after reading Mrs. Man, Gayle added “Brickert” to her last name to honor her mother Ruth. Later, she gave her son Dashiell the middle name Mullaney in remembrance of her grandmother. She also volunteered with organizations such as Wingspan, the LGBTQ Community Center, as well as the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network.

Taking after her father Morgan, with whom she was exceptionally close, she possesses a great deal of determination, dedication, self-sufficiency, creativity (especially when it comes to projects that involve wood and/or building or tinkering) and integrity. She is incredibly generous and fair, and in this way and others, embodies many of the values to which the Women’s Plaza of Honor is dedicated.