Thursday, April 28, 2011

So What?

As someone who works with teens I have spent a lot of time discussing appropriate relationships and signing forms where I promise to behave correctly and that I understand behavior appropriate with other adults or between the teens is not (always) the same as behavior that's acceptable between adults and teens.  Now I recognize that I'm doing this in the context of a religious organization and that the rules for teachers are often stricter. However, there are things where I bang my head and wonder why that adult thought that was okay and there are also things where I think, "So what?". 
So, it turns out that a high school English teacher also writes erotic romance novels.  Now, I accept that she doesn't work in my school district or teach my kids, so my stake in this is non-existent, but I say, so what? Here's why. 
1. The teacher, from all reports, is a great English teacher.
2. She has not suggested that her students read erotic romance - in or out of school.*
3. She wrote the books under a pen name.  Now people who are good with the google fu can (and, in the case of one parent, did) figure it out.  But she had taken steps to keep the identities separate so that a student cruising Amazon or their library or bookstore wouldn't happen on to it and think, weird, that's my teacher's name.
4. -She has not done anything illegal. I would also posit that nothing immoral, unethical, or salacious has occurred.  I recognize that your mileage may vary on that, but writing a novel that may contain material that is inappropriate for some ages is not causing harm to anyone. 
5. The suggestion that because she writes about sex, she will be unable to engage in appropriate relations with her students is ridiculous.  A - because in a multi-decade career it appears that she has managed to demonstrate such and B - because writing about consensual adult relations is no way correlates to engaging in inappropriate sexual behavior and C - because if writing made it so, then Bart Simpson would have learned his lesson a long time ago.**
6. The suggestion that her students will now be unable to not think about sex is funny of so many levels.  A - because yes, it is the rare high schooler who thinks about sex.  (Not.) B - Because um, when several of my teachers got married or got pregnant (or got their spouse pregnant) I was, due to the knowledge of where babies come from imparted by my very school, able to deduce that they were having sex.  Yes, it was kinda weird.  It's part of growing up - figuring out that these people, be they parents or teachers or the cashier at the coffee shop all have lives that have nothing to do with you. 
7. The teacher, from all reports, is a great English teacher.
As, SB Sarah pointed out, the comments on the news site are heartwarming (unlike, you know, a lot of new site comments.)
So, I find it sad that this news outlet considered this news and ran this story without any of the lovely comments from parents and students who think she is a wonderful teacher and could care less what she does in her spare time. 

*I am not saying that I don't think high schoolers are old enough to choose their reading material.  I do. 
**Yes, I know Bart is fictional.