The original executive director of its board in El Cerrito, California, from 2001 to 2007, Amity P. Buxton, PhD, founded the Straight Spouse Network in Mahwah, New Jersey, in 1991, a worldwide organization that offers communication support for people whose husbands or wives realize they identify as LGBTQ+. It reaches out as an invisible group, and educates with research and builds records to change cultural attitudes toward LGBT community. Dr. Buxton wanted to help raise the visibility of this conflict, and offer support to people at a loss by it. Throughout her career, the highlight that stands out is the fact that people have learned and grown. The spouses become themselves again and the teachers become better teachers, which is the best legacy. In addition, she enjoys every time a spouse works through the six major steps of the program and comes out feeling more confident and hopeful.
Dr. Buxton’s own ex-husband, John, came out in 1983, and she found herself talking to many people about it. When it first happened, she thought she was the only one and it affected her sexuality, confidence, morals and more. When she went through it, she heard about an organization called Parents, Family, Lesbians and Gays (P-Flag) and the founder of that organization later turned it over to her. She decided it should become a network like her center, and that is what got her started. Among Dr. Buxton’s many accomplishments as an educator and activist includes the development of a prototype for teachers’ centers for staff and curriculum development in the United States. She is currently happily married to her second husband, Robert Steen Strand, since 1991.
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 a college assistant professor from 1966 to 1971. During this time, she also directed the Teachers’ Active Learning Center in San Francisco from 1969 to 1974, 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 has spoken at professional conferences of the Bisexuality Network in San Diego from 1992 to 2006, the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts in Madison, Wisconsin, 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 and the State of California in 1973, as well as 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 has served on the board of directors of the United Way of San Francisco from 1959 to 1963 and the Family Equality Council in Boston from 1996 to 2002 and since 2010, as well as 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 has also been active with the Junior League of San Francisco since 1953. A prolific writer, Dr. Buxton contributed 13 books related to her field, including 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.