What? You've never seen a flower?

A Michigan substitute teacher has been fired for saying the word "vagina" out loud in an art classroom while discussing the imagery of Georgia O'Keeffe's paintings of flowers, under a school policy requiring instructors to get advanced approval for any discussion of "reproductive health." Thank god the Michigan Morality Police are keeping innocent children safe from substitute teachers sneaking sex ed into art classes.

Allison Wint had been substituting at Harper Creek Middle School in Battle Creek since January when she uttered the unspeakable word in an eighth grade art class. She claims that rather than being a filthy smutmonger, she was explaining O'Keeffe's work in the context of art history. Not good enough, you sicko pervert! Next you'll be letting Frida Kahlo and "her" big ol' unibrow go into the ladies' room!

Wint -- whose own name is a mere two letters different from another offensive anatomical slang term -- insists her intentions were good. They always do, don't they?

"I did not know about this policy, they were entirely within their right to remove me, however I was not aware of this policy beforehand; if I had known about this policy, I would have never done it without approval," Wint said.

But her explanation wasn't enough; Harper Creek Community Schools released a quote from their school handbook, indicating teachers are required to get advanced approval when discussing any form of reproductive health.

Apparently, her attempts to explain O'Keeffe's art is not commonly in use in sex-ed classes didn't get very far.

Wint explained the classroom discussion in further detail to the Detroit Free Press:

At some point, Wint remembers saying: “Imagine walking into a gallery when (O’Keeffe) 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.’

She was hoping to have a thoughtful dialogue with a class of about two dozen eighth-graders on Thursday [April 21] -- but school officials have said her lesson ran afoul of policies. Through the course of the lecture, she went on to use the word vagina “maybe 10 times,” she said. “But it was never in a vulgar capacity.”

Harper Creek Superintendent Rob Ridgeway denied Wint was fired for saying "vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina," but rather for deviating from the assigned curriculum and not advising the principal in advance that she'd be discussing controversial vag-flower art. He said the firing was also due to other policy violations which he declined to detail, but which definitely had nothing to do with vulvas, pussies, quims, coochies, beavers, love tunnels, furburgers, or bearded clams.

The district appears to have told a slightly different story to the Washington Post, however, this time denying they had even really fired Wint:

“Harper Creek Community Schools prides itself on being an outstanding educational institution which consistently operates with purpose, respect, and integrity,” the district said in a statement sent to The Washington Post. “We are aware of the allegations that controversial subject matter resulted in a substitute teacher, employed through a third-party agency, not being invited back for further service. This is not the case.

“We do not shy away from controversial issues. The District did have concerns that the substitute teacher did not follow district art curriculum. These concerns, in addition to other failures, were the basis for the determination. We work very diligently to ensure that all students, staff and contracted personnel are treated fairly with respect and privacy.”

Ah! So there was a "determination" of some kind, but not a "termination"? Ceci n'est pas un licenciement! We'd like to congratulate the Harper Creek Community School District on managing to come up with a set of statements that are every bit as wide open to interpretation as Georgia O'Keeffe's flower paintings, albeit not nearly so pleasant to look at.

We'll leave you with this bit of Art History from the YouTubes, courtesy of arts collective "Possumbox" and fine arts expert Dan Savage (NSFW, depending on your workplace):

[WWMT via Dan Savage / Detroit Free Press / WaPo]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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