About two and half years ago, Lauren Miranda, a middle school teacher in New York, was getting ready at her home when she decided to take a topless selfie and send it to her then-boyfriend, who was a teacher in the same school district. This January, Miranda, 25, was called to the principal's office at Bellport Middle School on Long Island, where she had been a math teacher since Before going to the meeting, a colleague told Miranda that there was a rumor her naked photo had been obtained by a teenage student.
Miranda was certain it wasn't hers because she had never sent anything like that to a student. But during the meeting in the principal's office — where there were mostly men — one of the male school administrators brought up Miranda's topless selfie on his computer screen and showed it to her.
The officials confronted Miranda about the selfie and accused her of disseminating the photo to students. They "attempted really hard to humiliate her, berate her, and get her to resign," Ray told BuzzFeed News on Thursday.
She did not resign. Within a few days of the Jan. The superintendent told her that she was no longer a "role model" for the students she was teaching because her breasts were seen in the selfie, Ray told BuzzFeed News. None of the male teachers or school officials who walked around shirtless in the school gym or swimming pool were reprimanded or fired for being topless, he added. Ray filed a notice of claim to the school district last week, which is usually done before filing a lawsuit against a government entity, giving them a chance to respond.
Ray said he intended to file the formal complaint in federal court in New York soon after the district responds. The superintendent, Joseph Giani, declined to comment on the case, saying Thursday, "The district does not comment on active litigation. Miranda was viewed as an "exemplary" teacher by the district before the incident, Ray said, adding that Giani had indicated to her that she would be getting tenure in June. A performance evaluation from the school district that was provided to BuzzFeed News showed that Miranda had received the highest ratings in almost all categories, including the level of respect between her and her students.
It's me in my natural element," Miranda said. Miranda's attorney, Ray, provided her selfie to BuzzFeed News and other outlets, saying that she was "not ashamed of it. In a statement to BuzzFeed News on Friday, Miranda said that sharing her selfie and her body with the world "is scary. It is something that has become so packed with emotion and trauma that I am trying to navigate," Miranda said.
She said that having her story shared so publicly "has made it that much more real and emotional. I am proud of it, but I will admit, I do feel all the more vulnerable. Having to feel this way is outrageous and unfair, although it is my reality. It is the result of how society has sexualized my body. She said that she had made the choice to stand up for what was right and that she shared a "personal image of my body to show how I have been stigmatized as a woman. Miranda said that instead of thoroughly investigating how her selfie was obtained by a student, the school district discriminated against her because she was a woman and she had breasts.
Miranda recalled the superintendent telling her, "How can I put you in front of a classroom full of boys where they can pull out their phones and look at this image of you? That I'm a woman? Miranda said that while she was concerned about how an old selfie sent privately only to a male teacher was obtained by a student, she did not know how it got out and did not want to point fingers at anyone. Miranda said she wanted to focus on the bigger picture of what her lawsuit means for gender equality and celebrating women's bodies.