Is a teacher legally allowed to call a student a judgemental name because of the clothes the student is wearing?

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According to most educators' codes of ethics, name-calling of students is considered unprofessional at least, and a terminable offense at the worst, meaning it can get a teacher fired. However, legally speaking, a teacher can "label" a student in certain ways that fall outside the realm of religion, race, lifestyle, or socioeconomic status. As an example, if a student comes into class with their pants too low and the teacher calls the child a "plumber," referring to the pants' exposure of the buttocks, then that label is legally defensible, although inappropriate. However, if the teacher in question labels a female student a "slut" for wearing clothing that exposes too much anatomy, that incident then falls into the realm of sexual harassment or even slander. This question also hinges upon state laws governing educator standards. You may wish to check your local laws regarding this matter.

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I couldn't agree more that teacher bullying is unprofessional, unproductive and contrary to any definition of teacher ethics.  However, I don't think it's possible to make a sweeping statement that it is illegal.

Unfortunately I'm unable to find the exact state of the case law on this subject, but there appears to be little that would support a legal claim here.  Only about 15 states have anti-bulling laws, and most of those are directed at student-to-student bullying.

It certainly would be possible to come up with some reasonable arguments that a court SHOULD find teacher bullying illegal, but I don't think this has been established.

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While it is likely against school policies, and may cost this teacher his or her job, it is not likely ILLEGAL (meaning against the law) for the teacher to have called a student a judgmental name.  The first amendment to the US Constitution protects our right to free speech.  It does not however, require our employers to put up with our bad choices in what we say.

Now, if it is a public school (state sanctioned), then the teacher may not make any discriminatory statements based upon race, creed, religion, national origin, etc.  That would in fact likely be illegal.  I am interested in specifically what this teacher said in order to provide further thoughts here.

 

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