If you haven’t already heard, a former fourth grade math teacher from Long Island was fired last month after a topless selfie of hers (that she sent three years ago) circulated around the school she taught at for four years. In 2016, Lauren Miranda sent the photo to a fellow teacher in the same school district, who was a man she was dating at the time. However this past January, Miranda was called into the principal’s office at Bellport Middle School, and to her surprise, was shown the nude photo of herself taken years ago. She was then suspended without pay.
After being deemed by the superintendent that Miranda was “no longer a role model,” as reported by Buzzfeed News, Miranda was terminated in March after intense humiliation and ridicule by school officials.
Now, Miranda is suing the school district for gender discrimination in a $3 million lawsuit. It was even confirmed to her that after an internal investigation, police had “enough proof” to say that she “did nothing wrong or illegal,” as reported to by ABC News. In fact, it is legal in the state of New York to appear topless in public.
Let’s be real; it’s 2019, and probably everyone you know sends nudes to their partner, significant other, or people they just want to get freaky with. Part of dating culture now, especially with millennials, is sexting. What seems to be misconstrued by people who read this story is that Miranda never sent this photo to a student, but to a coworker, and how it got out to students remains a mystery.
What’s sad is that before the incident, Buzzfeed News reported that Miranda’s 2018 performance review from the school district was superb, hitting high ratings in categories including a respectful dynamic between her and her students.
“I don't know why I took the picture, but when I look at it now, it's so pure. It's me in my natural element,” Miranda told Buzzfeed. “That's me.”
This story opens up a conversation people need to have, especially between parents and children. It is nothing new when people talk about the double standard between men being able to prance around topless at the beach or at the gym with no consequence because that’s been a rule in society for centuries. However, times are changing, and we need to start having a dialogue about how women, teachers or not, have breasts, and it is their body to own. Now, it would be a different story if Miranda was sexting a 14-year-old, but she’s not a predator: she’s a 25-year-old woman who felt secure in her body and trusted that this man would not violate her. But now, her world as she knows it, has completely flipped upside down.
What’s important to stress here, too, is that the person who leaked the photo of Miranda is at fault. In another world, if this photo never came out, Miranda would continue thriving and touching the lives of her young students around her. Stories of women like Miranda who are clearly professional but are also in touch with current dating norms should not always end in termination. We must be able to have discussions about how women are victims, especially in these circumstances, and not by their own choosing, too. And as long as men are able to wear speedos at the beach and post those online, women should be able to do whatever they damn well please in their private life, too.
Top photo: ABC News
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Gretchen Sterba is an editorial intern for BUST. She recently graduated with a B.A. from Columbia College Chicago with a double major in magazine journalism and creative nonfiction. Her most profound accomplishment is getting a Michael Scott tattoo. Follow her on Instagram at @gretchensterba