Lauren Miranda had been working as a math teacher with an “exemplary record” at a Long Island middle school since 2015. In January, she was put on paid leave after a student obtained a topless photo of her without her consent. In late March she was fired. Now, the 25-year-old teacher is suing for gender discrimination.
Miranda says she found out about the photo in mid-January, when a colleague texted her, “The kids … are saying they have a naked photo of you,” according to ABC News. She says she was shocked, as she had only sent the photo to one person: a male teacher in the district whom she’d been dating in 2016.
The same day, according to BuzzFeed News, the principal of the school called her into the office, where a group of mostly men was gathered. There, per Miranda’s attorney, a school-board official pulled up the photo of Miranda on his desktop and asked if it was her, before accusing her of disseminating it to students. The officials “attempted really hard to humiliate her, berate her, and get her to resign,” her attorney said. She refused.
“That was probably the worst day that I endured,” she told the New York Times.
Within a few days, Miranda was put on paid administrative leave; last week, she was fired. She claims that the school superintendent, Joseph Giani, told her in a meeting that he had recommended her termination because she was no longer a good “role model” to students. In a letter to Miranda obtained by the Times, he blamed her for “[failing] to take adequate precautionary measures” to keep the photo out of students’ hands and for “caus[ing], allow[ing], or otherwise [making] it possible” for them to obtain it.
Miranda is arguing that the cause for her termination is gender-based discrimination, and that if she were a man, these photos would not be seen as an issue. In her lawsuit, she is seeking up to $3 million, and asking that she be rehired.
“Some men’s outdated mindset is to impose sexuality upon a beautiful picture,” Ray told BuzzFeed News. “The superintendent never got the memo that men and women are equal.”