Mind Candy

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When the teacher is the bully

Posted by mandyf on May 17, 2012

Before anyone goes of the deep end defending teachers as a whole, please realize what I write is in regard to one specific educator and the actions she took against one of her students. A young man named Jared Swank did what many HS students do – he went to the prom. He took a date and danced with his date and by all accounts had a lovely night. He took the obligatory prom photos with his date and was even videotaped dancing with his date. On the whole, the prom was a success. That is true at least until he returned to school Monday. He took

Jared, of Hanover, PA, is gay. That didn’t seem to be a problem. Jared took a girl to the prom. No one objected. While there were no objections to that, what one teacher did seem to have a problem with is that the girl Jared took to the prom is transgender. That in no way makes her less of a girl, just different. We can’t fault people for biological differences beyond their control. For some reason though, one of his teachers  did anyway.

Jared has been bullied at school. He’s been bullied out of school. Until this time however, he was not knowingly the victim of bullying at the hands of one of his teachers. This is the same teacher that took video of Jared, with his consent, dancing with his date. The bullying which had been described as “rampant” has gotten worse. Now it is students and a teacher. But what did she do?

She took the video she shot on her iPhone to school. She played it for her science class. She uploaded it to school computers. What was said in that class is not fully known, but it is known she pointed out that Jared had taken a transgender girl to the prom which made the bullying all the worse. Sure they an complain, as they have many times before, but those complaints have piled up over the years without ever being acted upon.

Lawyers will argue if it was a civil rights violation or all nature of possible violations. Because he consented to being taped, rights violations will likely fail. The teacher may wind up in trouble based on what she said to her class. There is no doubt her actions made an already hostile environment even worse. There is no doubt her actions didn’t serve any positive purpose. There is no idea even why she would choose to show video of just Jared and his date and no others aside from trying to embarrass him somehow.

A hearing will commence and legal mouthpieces will argue every angle. Jared will be forced to live in the spotlight, along with his date, just to get a little justice for a situation that never should have happened. The school district seems to be taking it seriously as a violation of their all-inclusive policy, but so did they on many occasions prior when complaints were filed and then ignored.

Growing up gay isn’t easy. It’s not all love and acceptance like a Lady Gaga song. There is teasing. There is bullying. Sometimes, there is violence. Whether I, as a trans person likes to admit it or not, it is often hard on our friends and family to be closely associated to us. The way much of the world looks at it, being gay is different, but being trans is radically different, even abhorrent. Pairing the two makes for a stew that scares the hell out of a lot of people.

I sincerely hope that they find the teacher in question was trying to do something positive, something to point out it is okay to be different. My gut tells me different though. If that was honestly the intent, it would have been sung from the highest mountains already. At the least, she should have sought the couple’s permission to show the video to her class and explained why if her motives were pure. Instead, all she did was make a difficult situation worse. She robbed a precious memory of being a teenager from these kids. She made it more unsafe for them than it was before. It’s shame and it may be criminal, but mostly it is just sad.

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One Response to “When the teacher is the bully”

  1. Hi Amanda, it saddens me to hear these types of stories. At the school where my son attends his teacher is a bully. She screamed at him in front of me one time, so if she does that in front of parents imagine how she behaves when parents are not around. Luckily the year is almost over and she is on maternity leave. I am going to write the school a letter at the end of the year maybe I can stop her from bullying kids next year.

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