A Michigan substitute art teacher says she was fired after she said the most terrible word of all: vagina.
The teacher, Allison Wint was giving a lecture to a group of eighth graders at Harper Creek Middle School about Georgia O’Keefe’s work—a topic which, if discussed thoroughly, requires one to refer to female genitalia often and with enthusiasm.
According to the Detroit Free Press, Wint recalls saying, “Imagine walking into a gallery when [O’Keefe] 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.”
“I thought if I used a euphemism, that would make it into a joke,” she continued. “And I don’t think that’s a word you should be afraid of.”
The next day before class, the school’s principal, Kim Thayer, pulled Wint aside to let her know she had violated school policy.
Apparently, teachers at Harper Creek Community are required to get official approval before mentioning any aspect of reproductive health, reports a local CBS affiliate. In theory, this means that adult teachers need to ask a supervisor before saying breast, ovary, egg, infant, birth, sex, penis, or sperm. That policy is not immediately available on the school system’s website, although information about a dedicated Reproductive Health Advisory Committee is.
The most recent notes from the committee which meets to “review instructional materials for areas of the curriculum related to reproductive health,” indicate that a specific teen pregnancy prevention program was canceled due to illness of the provider, and rescheduling had not yet happened.
The Free Press reports that Wint had only been in trouble with the administration once before—when she had hung a student-made sign behind her desk reading “Marriage is about love, not gender.” The principal told her to remove it.
“I honestly had no words,” Wint told the CBS affiliate, WWMT, of her firing. “I’ve always been an advocate of not censoring art and music and writing.”
Image via KPG_Payless/Shutterstock.