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From Teacher to Lover

Sex Scandals in the Classroom

Tara Star Johnson

In the decade since Mary Kay Letourneau’s infamous liaison with her sixth-grade student was exposed, the reporting of sexual misconduct cases among teachers has proliferated. The amount of media attention – to women teachers in particular – has increased because the public is titillated and baffled by such cases of aberrant female sexuality. This is a qualitative case study of two high school English teachers, Hannah and Kim, who each had a sexual relationship with a student. Their cases are examined, along with those of Letourneau and Heather Ingram, two headline-heavy teachers whose backgrounds and patterns of behavior within the relationships are similar to Hannah’s and Kim’s. Without judging or sympathizing, this book elucidates the process by which these women crossed the ethical and professional line from teacher to lover. Teacher educators concerned about raising issues of gender, sexuality, and embodiment in their classes will find this a thorny but compelling text for generating dialogue about the taboo topic of bodies in education.