It seems like schools have gotten a lot sexier since I left their hallowed halls. First there was a sudden uptick in teachers shacking up with their students, and now there are reports of not just one, but two teachers who have either been suspended or straight up fired for being former porn stars.
Stacie Halas, a 31-year middle school teacher for Richard B. Haydock Intermediate School out in California, was the first to be identified and suspended for her allegedly shady past as porn star “Tiffany Six.” If you’re at work, don’t Google that name or any other names that appear in this post for that matter. It’s some pretty graphic stuff, more Hustler than Playboy.
Halas was put on leave a couple of weeks back while her school district decides what to do with her. But as luck, or misfortune, would have it, no less than two weeks ever Halas’s saga came to light, the story of another teacher by the name of Shawn Loftis was brought into the public eye. Loftis, 32, was a former gay porn star who own his own company called World of Men and worked in the industry for six years.
Despite possessing a master’s degree in public administration, shortly after landing a substitute teaching gig in Nautilus Middle School in Florida, Loftis was kicked to the curb by the school’s principal due to his past employment history. Loftis received his teaching certificate, but his future teaching career in Miami-Dade doesn’t appear too rosy as the district’s only comment on his case was that a “[teaching] certificate does not guarantee employment.” Ouch.
Crazy coincidences aside, these stories do bring up the very important question: why their past should even matter. Now before the cacophony of “because they’re porn stars” outbursts reach my eardrums, stop for a moment and think to yourself whether working in the sex industry really negatively affects Halas and Loftis’ abilities to teach. I mean, as far as anyone could tell, neither one has had any report or complaints against them for poor teaching techniques. And it’s certainly unlikely that either one has been coloring their instruction with stories of their past profession or teaching kids how to do a good money-shot (don’t Google that either if you’re at work).
The only issue is one of moral turpitude. But looking over each of their respective district’s regulations, being an ex-porno star doesn’t count as a moral turpitude offense, or for that matter, a crime. In fact, the only negative side effect it seems that can be attributable to their backgrounds is that some students may have a hard time respecting their authority. But in all honesty, the only reason anyone knows of their pasts is because their schools’ administration drudged it up and made it public.
However, the most interesting part of all this is that there may very well be the possible and blatant First Amendment violation going on here. Now some of you may be surprised to hear that the First Amendment doesn’t just cover your right to freedom of speech, religion, and expression, but it also covers your freedom to associate with whomever you please. This is called the freedom of association and when government actors are involved, the government isn’t allowed to discriminate against a person by denying them employment based solely on their past associations, including being a porn star.
But let me stress that the U.S. Supreme Court has stated that discrimination on the basis of prior or current associations can be allowed in certain situations, such as when the position is for a high ranking government job, or the affiliated association intends to overthrow the government, or when moral turpitude is a factor in deciding whether one may do a particular government job. There are more factors, but the last one I mentioned is probably the most pertinent to Halas and Loftis’ cases.
The question is whether one would consider being a porn star an offense against good moral turpitude. As stated earlier, both the California and Florida school districts don’t have rules prohibiting such behavior nor any that specifically label such past occupations as showing bad moral character. Like most legal questions, this one will be for the courts to decide should it ever get that far. However, for me, and I hope most of you, it shouldn’t have to be because there’s nothing wrong with what these two did in the past, both from a legal and moral standpoint.
Now certainly teachers are supposed to be role models and arguably the most damaging aspect of Halas and Loftis’ past is that it may not make them suitable people for their students to look up to. But by shunning them, the school districts are in essence condemning an industry that has every legal right to function. Though many may object to the porn industry of moral grounds, the fact of the matter is that it’s a regulated business that is legally allowed to exist. The idea of condemning it in this fashion would be no different that keeping teachers who were former taxi drivers from teaching because their old jobs were too blue collar for kids to look up to.
As far as I’m concerned, a good teacher is a good teacher. I went to public schools and looking back, many of my favorite teachers had flaws. But none of their blemishes mattered because they were so captivating as teachers. Their instruction methods made learning fun. And if any teacher, porn star or not, is capable of doing this for their pupils, than shunning them from the profession will only harm the students.
What do guys think about Halas, Loftis, and what is and isn’t an appropriate prior vocation for teachers in general? As always sound off with your thoughts below.
On an unrelated note, this is my last post as a regular writer for the LegalMatch Law Blog. I still may contribute pieces in the future from time to time, but for now I must bid you adieu. I’ve enjoyed my time here and I’ve especially loved interacting with all of you, dear readers. Thank you all for your support and thank you to LegalMatch and my editor for letting me write for them for so long.