On January 25, I left my job, not knowing it would be my last day. After 18 months of various situations, my last day wasn’t even by my own doing. I left that day under the impression that my paid leave was temporary. That leave turned into two months, then a termination.
As an educator, we are scrutinized for everything we’re not and for everything we are. However, people don’t see the moments that make us question our purpose or our worth. We are left to fill the shoes of every role that a student needs without getting too “personable.” Any educator with a heart knows just how challenging that is. You see the potential, the growth, and the hard life lessons that some kids just must learn independently. As a black queer millennial educator, I already walked in with a target on my back. The other target was the very thing that I was self-conscious about—MY BODY. As a plus-size woman with a pear shape, being sexualized was a regular occurrence. However, taking all those things and mixing them with high school boys and a small town means speculation. In my first year, I was told to hide my sexuality and tone down who I was. As a blogger, being open about my life was all I knew. Besides, it didn’t take much for my kids to find out who Ms. Wilson was on the Internet or after-hours. After years of being out of the closet, my job wanted me to step back in. They made it seem like being bisexual was an offense when other little black girls saw themselves in me. However, I continued to walk in a truth that was digestible for work—mistake number one. The derogatory comments from male students just added fuel to the fire. Being seen as a sexual conquest versus a person.
My sex life had been a topic amongst students and co-workers alike. Yet, I continued to do what I was passionate about. Despite my boss not having my back as she should. With the numerous reports, parent-teacher conferences, and students chastised, it didn’t stop the speculation. I watched as co-workers reported the comments heard in the hallway about me, and the glares that were once filled with respect dwindle. The boys that once saw Ms. Wilson only saw the comments made by their male role models. The crazy part—it was the same role models that had never held a conversation with me. They only knew of me what was heard through the grapevine or what they fantasized about.
However, I persevered with a good therapist and a great work best friend. I can’t say that experience of teaching didn’t change me. But to put the icing on the cake? I got accused of misconduct based on my personal life and dating partner. On January 25, my sex life became the topic for my leave. An accusation of a sex tape being leaked to my students started my road to freedom. As the allegations piled on, I stood in my truth. Each day of my leave made me realize how toxic my work environment was. By the time my termination was determined, my mind had accepted that my chapter needed to end. (FYI: No sex tape was ever seen). Although my personal sex life was deemed immoral based on student accusations—I let go with grace. Looking back on it now, the same harassment administration ignored became the reason for my termination. As with any loss, I dealt with the grief. I cried, got angry, and then I released it. I had planted the seeds that need to bloom within the kids that needed me. So, I gratefully accepted my time was done.
I realized that I wasn’t going to allow anyone to make me feel guilty for being human. My body and my sex life were something that should have never been on the table to discuss. I’ve heard the various rumors about myself made by ex-coworkers and students alike. It isn’t my business to make them believe me. The people that know me know my truth. I take accountability for anything that I did incorrectly, but I won’t water myself down. As of July, I am now in a better position than that place could have ever given me. That place forced me to grow and break away from comfortability. It also forced me into:
-A $10,000 pay raise with supplemental pay
-A new town and a sense of independence from my hometown
-My doctoral degree
-Becoming Ms. Louisiana Black Empowerment
So losing was the best win I could have ever asked for. I’m thankful for the experience and for the lives I’ve impacted. It helped prepare me for the other roles in education that I truly desire. I refuse to let one moment change who I am. I accept this next phase in my life graciously and look forward to the new lives I’ll be impacting. Don’t ever allow the misconceptions of the world to become the foundation of who you are. They will judge, they will assume, and you will prove them wrong each time.
And besides, if the world wants to see my sex tape—they’ll have to pay me for it. 😉