Consenting Adults – Arkansas Court Allowing Student/Teacher Relationships

By , April 11, 2012 4:07 pm

Originally posted at In Our Words, reposted with permission.

As a teacher who works with children in middle and high school, I understand the relationships and intimacy which can develop between teachers and students. I’ve worked with some of my students for over a decade, seen them grow into confident young adults, and watched them go off to college. Some stay in touch, and some cross my mind from time to time as I wonder what they’re up to today. I hope I do a good job steering them in through tumultuous childhoods and teenage years, and aim to leave them better people than they were when the first came to work with me. I’m also a theatre instructor who generally sees my students once a week, so I have limited impact, but I can still dream of making a difference; I know how powerfully my teaches — even those I saw infrequently — affected my development into an adult.

All these thoughts crossed my mind as I heard that the Arkansas Supreme Court had struck down a law 4-3 which forbade teachers from engaging in sexual activity with students who were under the age of 21. I feel pretty strongly that behavior outside of one’s employment shouldn’t be a factor in how they’re viewed as an employee. I hate the stories of teachers who are fired for having drunk pictures show up on Facebook, and I think drug screening for applicants is inherently unjust and offensive. For me, as a transgender lesbian, it’s all too easy to imagine my “personal life” being viewed as offensive or unacceptable when it comes to my professional life. Indeed, I was fired from a teaching position for being trans, which has nothing to do with my ability to teach a class.

So, my gut reaction is that, yes, if the relationship (in this case between an 18 year old student and her 36 year old teacher) is legal outside of school, it should be legal in school. Continue reading 'Consenting Adults – Arkansas Court Allowing Student/Teacher Relationships'»

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