The Sad Reason This Teacher Says She Lost Her Job

Photographed by Nicholas Bloise.
Half of the world has one, but according to one substitute teacher in Michigan, using the word vagina is a fireable offense. Allison Wint says she used the basic — and correct — anatomical term as part of an art history discussion in a class at Harper Creek Middle School in Battle Creek, MI. Wint told the Detroit Free Press that she was referencing an image of a painting by Georgia O'Keeffe when she asked her class of eighth graders to “imagine walking into a gallery when [O’Keeffe] was first showing her pieces, and thinking, Am I actually seeing vaginas here, am I a pervert? I’m either a pervert or this woman was a pervert.” She estimated that she used the word 10 or so times, but never in a "vulgar" sense. She told the paper that while some students did giggle at the term, the overall discussion went well. “I thought if I used a euphemism, that would make it into a joke,” she said. “And I don’t think that’s a word you should be afraid of.” The next day, she says, she was told by the school's principal that she violated a policy requiring that teachers get prior approval before talking about reproductive health, the paper and CBS affiliate WWMT reported.

The school confirmed that the teacher, hired through a third-party agency, was let go. But it suggested in a statement that claims that the decision had to do with the use of the word vagina are false. "We are aware of the allegations that controversial subject matter resulted in a substitute teacher, employed through a third party agency, not being invited back for further service. This is not the case," the school said in a statement provided to Refinery29. "We do not shy away from controversial issues. The district did have concerns that the substitute teacher did not follow district art curriculum. These concerns, in addition to other failures, were the basis for the determination. We work very diligently to ensure that all students, staff and contracted personnel are treated fairly with respect and privacy." An assistant superintendent declined to elaborate or answer questions related to the issue.

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