My Google Alerts were blowing up this weekend with reports of the story:
- Florida teacher allegedly fired after discussing sexuality with students
- Florida Teacher Fired for Discussing Sexual Orientation Sparks Debate
- Teacher Says She Was Fired After Talking to Students About Sexuality
Most of the reports I read reference this one from local TV station WBBH, according to which students verified that the teacher, who is married to a man, revealed to her art class that she was pansexual. Pansexuality is sexual, romantic, or emotional attraction towards people regardless of their sex or gender identity.
“I like anyone despite male, female, non-binary, transgender,” the teacher told WBBH.
The art teacher, who was still in her probationary employment period, says her art students then drew flag pictures expressing their sexuality. But, according to the teacher, school leaders made her remove the drawings and throw them out.
A few months ago, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed the “Parental Rights in Education” bill, which opponents have dubbed the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ legislation. The new law prohibits school education “in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”
The teacher’s “pansexuality” is more clickbait (guilty as charged) than anything else concerning the art teacher.
What makes more sense to you under these circumstances?
- School District fires teacher because she is pansexual; or
- School District fires art teacher for discussing her sexual preferences (whatever they may be) with middle schoolers rather than following the class syllabus.
According to the WBBH report, the School District claims it fired the teacher for not following the mandated curriculum.
None of the articles I read suggests that the teacher is pursuing a claim against the school based on her sexual orientation. But I’m guessing that it would be fruitless. To prevail, she would have to have direct evidence of discrimination (e.g., “We’re firing you because you are pansexual”) or be able to show that the school treated a similarly situated teacher outside of her protected class differently.
And the odds are that no other probationary art teacher addressed sex education in class and kept their jobs.
A story like this can help raise awareness for social issues impacting schools. But, as an employment case, it should never see the inside of a courtroom.