NEW YORK CITY – A former New York middle school teacher has threatened to sue a school district in New York State, saying it was because of a topless photo of herself had gone public.
“My career has been ruined, my reputation has been tarnished,” said 25-year-old teacher Lauren Miranda. “I have been stigmatized.”
Attorney John Ray said South Country School District fired his client from her job teaching mathematics at Bellport Middle School on Long Island last week because the superintendent said Miranda wasn’t a good role model after a photo of her exposed chest was leaked to a student. Since January, Miranda has been on leave from teaching with pay.
“That picture was never posted,” Miranda said. “How it got out is the million-dollar question.”
Miranda said she plans to file a $3 million claim against the district, accusing the school system of treating her unfairly because she’s a woman, local sources in New York have reported.
“I am a teacher who is being penalized for being a woman,” Miranda said. “My future has been condemned because I am a female, with female breasts, seen in a mild selfie.”
Miranda’s attorney said his client will drop her planned lawsuit if she’s reinstated at the school, but he said the district told Miranda that’s not going to happen.
The district has stayed quiet on the issue.
“The district does not comment on active litigation,” the superintendent said in a statement.
Ray said the district held a meeting about the selfie in which they called Miranda in and questioned her, as the leaked picture was “displayed in full color, with all the men in the room sitting there,” local sources report.
“What is wrong with my image?” Miranda asked at the press conference Monday, according to ABC News local NYC station, WABC. “It’s my breasts. It’s my chest. It’s my body. It’s something that should be celebrated.”
It’s also a double standard, her attorney said.
“Anytime a man has ever exposed his chest, no one has ever commented or had any problem with it whatsoever,” Ray said, according to WABC. “But when a woman displays her chest, as happened here, she gets fired from her job.”
According to legal documents, it is legal in New York for women to go topless in public.
Miranda is considering teaching roles in other districts, local sources report.
Performance evaluations on Miranda, who was to be considered for tenure in June, described her as an “outstanding math instructor, knowledgeable of her content area, but most of all genuinely dedicated to the academic progress of all of her students.”
Miranda said one reason she’s fighting the dismissal is to send a message to female students.
“What message is that saying to the girls who have their photos airdropped all over the high school and sent all over?” Miranda said, according to WABC. “What message are we sending to them? To roll over when your picture gets exposed without your permission or consent? So how am I now not being a role model to them?”
Some parents said the school district made the right choice.
“Whether her intentions were for the picture to get out or not, it happened—and now you have to be responsible for your actions,” said parent Randy Miller.
Miranda said she doesn’t regret snapping the picture and sending it to her then-boyfriend.
“I’m proud of my body,” she said, according to local reports.