sexually harassing teacher

Sharon O. Hoff (
Tue, 21 Jan 1997 12:03:39 -0700


If not sexual harassment, this incident you mention is a clear case of sex
discrimination. Just substitute "black boy" for "pretty girl" in the
"pretty girl with a brain" comment below, and you can see the
discrimination in another context.

I personally would agree that his behavior is also sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment is unwanted behavior that is gender-based, and usually
involves a difference in power between the harasser and the target. This
teacher's comment clearly singled out your daughter because of her gender,
and was clearly unwelcome. There is also an obvious power difference
between her and the teacher. An additional factor in this example is that
his behavior interfered with your daughter's ability to get an education,
because it affected her ability to answer questions in class.

I would advise students in similar situations to document all such
incidents, including what was said, where and when it happened, and who
else heard the comments. If this occurred in a classroom, there should be
lots of witnesses. They might not come forward either 1) because they are
afraid to get involved, or 2) because they didn't perceive the behavior to
be harassing. Many students are taught to accept such behavior on the part
of a teacher as a normal part of life. However, harassment is defined by
the "eye of the beholder" standard, which means that the person on the
receiving end determines whether an action was harassment or not.

Is this case being handled by the district, or is it being investigated by
the Office of Civil Rights? Has a suit been filed? I'm curious to know
how it's being handled. Let me know if you have any other questions.

>I need some advice on a personal level. Last year I had my then 15
>yr. old daughter removed from a class when I felt a teacher was making
>inappropriate comments to her. She felt very uncomfortable in his class.
>One comment was a reply to her correct answer to a question outloud in
>class. He said something to the effect of a pretty girl with a brain
>said in a tone that made her believe that he believed that pretty girls
>don't have brains. Needless to say, she did not raise her hand after
>that. My question is, do statements such as these constitute sexual
>harrassment? I know school involves compulsory attendance and I know
>that sexual harrassment involves a person in position over another.
>This teacher is now up on charges of sexual harrassment for "alleged"
>comments to other girls. The school district is asking other girls to
>come forward, which some of them have. My daughter comes home every day
>with a new story on the case. This has affected our community in an
>statements that the original two girls have personal and family
>problems themselves. It sounds like they are going to drag these girls
>through the wringer. If anyone has any comments or advice on this issue
>please forward. I am a teacher myself and am almost finished with my
>administration in education degree. This is a situation that concerns
>me both personally and professionally.
>Thanking you in advance for your comments.---Candace---


Sharon O. Hoff

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