Alex Blaze

Teachers Have Sex Too

Filed By Alex Blaze | May 13, 2011 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: bisexual, child care, lesbian, lives, sex, straight, teachers

Tracey Clark-Flory at Salon rounds up a few recent stories about teachers are getting criticism and losing their jobs for their off-the-job sexual activity: sex-beast-teacher.jpg

At no point was Buranich, who writes erotica as Judy Mays, in danger of losing her job; sanely, the administration didn't actually consider disciplining her over her legal side-job. But there is clearly something irresistible about teachers with decidedly adult extracurricular activities, and many have not been so lucky as Buranich. In 2009, a Florida biology teacher was fired after photos of her in a bikini were discovered online (interestingly enough, after failing to find a new teaching job, she turned to porn). Earlier this year, a teacher in San Diego contested his firing over posting an ad -- with a photo of his face and his penis -- on Craigslist's men-seeking-men section. Last month, a high school secretary in Quebec was sacked after it was discovered that she had done porn; and just the month before, a Florida high school teacher was canned when her X-rated past surfaced. Then, of course, there's Melissa Petro who recently wrote in Salon about losing her job over her public admission of a sex work past.

The issue isn't that there are more teachers who are having sex than there were before. Contrary to popular belief, teachers don't stop existing after school hours and, like everyone else, they're entitled to pleasure in their off-hours.

What has changed is that, with the internet, it's a lot easier to find out that a teacher has sex in their free time. While I was in school, the only sign that a teacher had had sex was if she became pregnant or if a male teacher talked about his wife getting pregnant. That's it.

They were cheered on instead of fired, but that's probably because it was the sort of sex our puritanical culture allowed anyone to participate in: marital, heterosexual sex for the purposes of procreation. This inherently puts a gay and lesbian teacher at a disadvantage as having a relationship at all is a sign of engaging in sex for pleasure, and that's why schools fire teachers who come out and grad schools tell young LGB teachers it's better just to stay in the closet.

Where does this all come from? Time and time again, we see that America doesn't want children to know about sex. And while television and movies are filled with sex, we expect role models, the sorts of people we want them to emulate (not the sports stars who treat women as sex objects), to be chaste. While Americans definitely don't live up to that standard themselves, which would be obvious if the parents who complain about teachers having sex had their sex lives dissected in front of everyone, but hypocrisy is the name of the game when it comes to sex and public lives. The right acknowledges this and thinks hypocrisy is perfectly fine.

However we got here, if asking a group of non-public figures to engage only in marital, heterosexual sex for the duration of their careers for no reason other than it makes stupid people more comfortable doesn't raise a red flag, then the fact that we think that kids will whither if they come into contact with someone who has sex for pleasure should remind us how not-far we really are from Victorian culture.

Or as someone Clark-Flory interviewed put it:

But, is that such an awful thing? As a friend who used to teach told me: "It's pretty shitty, honestly: We have a pay scale that relies on teachers to be altruists. Now they have to be nuns, too? Bullshit!"

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Steven Capsuto | May 13, 2011 9:47 AM

Your catchy headline has nothing to do with the article. None of these people was fired for having sex. In fact, we have no way of knowing whether any of them have ever managed to get laid in their lives.

We can fight for equality more effectively if we avoid exaggerations that may seem politically expedient but which actually harm our credibility as a movement.

Sex is an intrinsic part of each of these stories. They weren't virgins - some of them were specifically seeking sex. The message is clear, that teachers shouldn't be having sex in unapproved ways.

The title stands.

Steven Capsuto | May 13, 2011 3:14 PM

The people involved in firing them probably don't care who gets laid and who doesn't and what they get up to. This is clearly a disagreement about the appropriateness of different public displays of sexuality (particularly in venues where minors might stumble upon them), which is an entirely different matter.

I can see debating whether those are appropriate criteria for employment decisions, but the misleading, sensationalistic headline is typical of the kind hyperbole a certain breed of activists grab at, thinking it's politically expedient to lie if it gets attention.

Again, having sex isn't what these people got fired for. So why claim it is?

What are minors doing on the Craigslist M4M section which clearly states an age restriction or the erotica section of a bookstore?

With poor oversight, a toddler could "stumble" into the porn section of a rental store. It's not the fault of the porn stars or the rental staff if the parent is lacking in supervision. These things are separated at the rational and legal level (short of having a guard or an age verification online check).

This is the adult realm, which is completely legal, and it is the fault of the minor's legal guardians that one of them was even able to "stumble" upon this stuff.

If romance is just as human as sex, would a personal ad or a dating profile be considered inappropriate? Especially when those venues--a zine, a newspaper, an online site--are just as accessible for a minor.


You might also LOVE this one...

Says one resident: "What can you tell a child if you haven't talked to em about about sex yet?"

I love how the most puritanical "save the children" types are also the ones most quickly to associate sex with everything. How easy it is for them to forget that human genitalia also facilitates the incredibly mundane practice of going to the bathroom, something that their child has been doing with their own genitalia since birth and with more frequency than any sexual way they will use their genitalia over the course of their lifetime.

I saw that this morning. It's crazy - as if half the children who'll see that don't already have a penis and need to be shielded from the knowledge that it exists.

This is why I don't think the puritans, those who want to restrict sex and sexuality for no rational reason, can be accommodated. They will find sex anywhere and accommodating them only encourages them.

Today it's the statue of David, tomorrow they're digging up mushrooms that look like penises, and the day after they're looking for any pair of rocks that look like breasts to throw in a river. It has to stop somewhere.

Your article, once again, has given me a lot to think about and I totally agree that our understanding of sex and its discussion to youth needs to be more mature. We need good and fair conversations about sex.

But I totally disagree that former porn stars, porn writers, sex workers, and guys who post pics of their faces and dicks online is symptomatic of a failed system for teachers and our educational system when it comes to sex (which I think you imply). I do think, as you suggest, it's more a problem with exposing ourselves to a world that is getting smaller as our technology becomes more advanced and intrusive.

But there is another issue too. I cannot think of a single job where such a disclosure wouldn't have monumental repercussions especially in jobs that cater to the public sector. People who make a living catering to those who have porn addictions and are willing to expose themselves in pursuit of sexual fulfillment need to recognize that not everyone is either comfortable with that pursuit or feels its moral. We do live in a crazed religious environment too--where the majority of Americans cite their faith as important to them.

Sure, we need to be fair and kind and understanding to all persons, regardless of their past or present activities--but said persons also need to be mindful that in situations of public trust, it isn't all about them, their sexual needs of fulfillment, and what gets them off. The public needs to know that their teachers will be the kind of role model to their children that reflects their values. And for most Americans, putting your dick and face pic online represents a more depraved value (not to me or you, of course, but definitely to most).

I think us LGBT folk will be more persuasive in sharing our values to non-LGBT folk when we can learn to keep our dicks and tits under our clothes in public and show the world, we're really not such a threat after all. And then, in conversations, educate others (because sex will always be a part of the conversation) that sexual orientation is not a perversion. Unfortunately, it's when they see our dicks and tits jigging out and about that they don't believe us.

I agree that their actions make lots of Americans think they're "depraved," I just think that Americans who think that are wrong and should change.

What other low-profile job gets that sort of scrutiny? Other government workers that interact with the public don't. If someone finds a postal worker's Craigslist ad, they don't call the police, who then inform their employer so they can be fired (the craigslist story above). Other employers don't consider firing their employees because of past sex work - they consider it to be part of a person's life outside of work.

I don't see this as being a LGBT vs. Straight dividing line, necessarily, although I think this is an issue where we're not going to come out on top. But a lot of those linked stories were straight women teachers, and sexphobia is something that hurts straight people too. We should be making those connections for them.

The Questioner | May 13, 2011 5:08 PM
I think us LGBT folk will be more persuasive in sharing our values to non-LGBT folk when we can learn to keep our dicks and tits under our clothes in public and show the world, we're really not such a threat after all.

Bo, with all due respect---our genitals (cloaked or uncloaked) are not the problem. Sexuality shaming of public servants is not a hetero vs. queer issue.

As Alex rightly pointed out, many of the teachers fired for consensual adult activity are hetero cis women with sex work pasts. That right there is about slut-shaming, not queer or trans "deviance." Madonna/whore policing of deviant bodies (women, brown folks, queer-trans folks, etc.) is one of the chief tools in the arsenal of patriarchy and economic oppression.

Ultimately it comes down to this: oppressed people do not have to earn respectability from privileged folk, period. We are entitled to basic human rights (food, shelter, productive work) because we are human. Playing respectability politics with our oppressors is always a losing game, because ridding yourself of an externally imposed stigma is not your responsibility. We queers need to get clear on that sooner than later.

Teachers have sex? OMG!
In my sophmore year of high school, my social studies teacher was called out of the class room by his wife who was pregnant.
He walked out and she and 3 other teachers grabbed him and took him to the girls locker room where they stripped him, scalded him, then pushed him out the door in to a 5 foot snow drift.
Seems my teacher had gotten all of them pregnant and they all had the same ob/gen and had back to back appointments on the same day.
Funny, they didn't fire him or the 3 other teachers. His wife did divorce him (good for her). He was out of school for a few weeks healing up from the scalding.

There was this one too:

I can agree that if her not having premarital sex was part of her contract then the school did have the right to fire her, but for Pete's sake, it's not like the kids were likely to do the math! And no one knew until she was asked about it and admitted to being pregnant three weeks before.

Two months into my freshman year of HS all of a sudden two teachers, a man and a woman, were gone. I didn't know them and didn't think anything of it. Fast forward twelve years when I'm back teaching at that same school and one of my collegues got married. Five months later, we're throwing a baby shower for him and his wife and I had to quell student gossip that it was obviously not a honeymoon baby. Then I hear the whole story from my friend who had been teaching there twenty years. Seems that the teachers who left my Freshman year were dismissed at the insistance of parents when the female teacher became pregnant by the male teacher to whom she was not married. This particular set of parents threw such a fit that those teachers were innapropriate role models, especially at a Catholic school. And those parents were the very same whose little boy grew up to be my collegue who knocked up his girlfriend. Oddly, they did not insist that their son be fired