The original executive director from 1991 to 2007, Amity P. Buxton, PhD, founded the Straight Spouse Network in in 1991, a worldwide organization that provides peer support and research-based information for persons whose husbands or wives reveal their identity of LGBTQ+ and, most often, leave their marriages. The network reaches out to this invisible group and helps them heal, while also educating the larger community about this issue and working with other organizations to change negative cultural attitudes toward the LGBT community. As in her previous work in public education, Dr. Buxton wanted to raise public awareness of deeper social issues, being underlying problems the organization addressed. Throughout her career, the highlight that stood out is the fact that the people who served by the organizations she founded have learned and grown through her work – the best legacy. Straight spouses become themselves again and the teachers whom she trained became better teachers. In addition, she is very happy each time a spouse works through the six major issues they face and a teacher learns new skills, feeling more confident and watching his or her students learning in a wider, deeper scope.
Dr. Buxton’s own ex-husband came out as gay in 1983 after 25 years of marriage and two children. She thought she was the only person this had happened to. Her sexuality, confidence, moral compass and belief system were shattered. While struggling, she found a group for wives of gay or bisexual men within a national organization, PFLAG. Once renewed, she interviewed the group’s leader for her book, “The Other Side of the Closet: The Coming-Out Crisis for Straight Spouses.” The leader then turned the group over to Dr. Buxton, who reconstructed it into the Straight Spouse Network, as she had when developing a prototype for teachers’ centers for staff and curriculum development in the United States.
Prior to this post, Dr. Buxton began her career as a secondary school teacher at Grosse Point Public School in Michigan in 1952, remaining in this role for two years before instructing language arts at San Francisco State University (SFSU) from 1954 to 1956 and French in Bronxville, New York, from 1956 to 1957. She then taught at Scarsdale High School and St. David’s School, each for one year, and eventually returned to SFSU to serve as an assistant professor from 1966 to 1971. From 1969 to 1974, she also directed the Teachers’ Active Learning Center in San Francisco, which was designed so that every individual’s needs were met to help them succeed. Teaching as part of several adjunct and extension faculties between 1973 and 1980, Dr. Buxton simultaneously directed the Teachers’ Center in Oakland, California, from 1974 to 1986 and was the staff development coordinator of the Oakland Unified School District from 1980 to 1986.
Beyond her primary trade, Dr. Buxton consulted for the Community Pre-School Program in San Francisco from 1964 to 1966, the San Francisco Unified School District from 1969 to 1974, the San Francisco Exploratorium from 1974 to 1975, the Far West Laboratory for Educational Research and Development from 1976 to 1980, and the Regional District Cluster in Denver in 1979. Furthermore, she worked with the National Council of Teachers of English in Columbus, Ohio, from 1974 to 1978, and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development in Washington from 1974 to 1979. A presenter in her field, Dr. Buxton spoke at professional conferences of the International Bisexuality Network from 1992 to 2006, the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts from 1994 to 2010, and the American Psychological Association from 1994 to 2012.
Preceding her professional career, Dr. Buxton pursued a formal education at Columbia University Teachers College in New York, where she attained a PhD in 1962. In addition to this academic honor, she earned a general teaching credential in the State of Michigan between 1952 and 1954, the State of California in 1973 and the State of New York. Dr. Buxton was also certified in administrative services in the State of California in 1980.
Active in her local community, Dr. Buxton served on the board of directors of the United Way of San Francisco from 1959 to 1963, the Family Equality Council in Boston from 1996 to 2002 and, from 2010 to 2016, the Catholic Association of Lesbian and Gay Ministry in Berkeley, California. A parish council member of the Church of Saint Leo the Great in Oakland, California, she was active in the Junior League of San Francisco in the 1970s. As a researcher and writer, Dr. Buxton contributed two books related to her field, plus a chapter in the book “Critical and Experiential, Dimensions in Gender and Sexual Diversity” in 2016, and numerous articles to professional journals.
In honor of her myriad achievements, Dr. Buxton was awarded the Evelyn Hooker Award for Distinguished Contribution by the American Psychological Association. Additionally, she was selected for inclusion in the 65th through 70th editions of Who’s Who in America. Over the long course of her career, Dr. Buxton’s two children, Pierce Alfred and Felicity Loring, have been very supportive, as well as her current partner. She is most proud of building awareness about sexual and racial equality. She has separated herself from others in similar professions through her energy, enthusiasm, commitment and sense of equality for all.