I just read about an interesting teacher sex case involving a not student. It touches on a lot of issues that I find important as a Libertarian. Normally these teacher sex cases are fairly straight forward. The teacher, in a position of trust, has sexual relations with an underage student. Pretty easy to see the problem there. That’s not the case this time.
In this situation the student is not a student at all but a former student and past the age of consent. The William Hulme Grammar school teaches children all the way from the beginning of schooling to the age of eighteen.
The Teacher Sex Case
The student in question left the school at some point before the sexual relationship began. That being said, it is indicated the teacher and student had a close, but non-sexual, relationship while the student was enrolled.
After the student left the school, the two stayed in contact and went out to local pubs on occasion. Eventually they spent an evening together at a hotel although the teacher in question denies any sexual relationship. The student indicates that she or he, no name is given, spent the night in the hotel and the two had sex twice.
The administrators at the William Hulme school decided this was unprofessional behavior by the teacher, despite the other party being of legal age and not being enrolled at the school, and fired the teacher. The Teaching Regulation Agency suspended the teacher who is now barred from teaching for five years but can then appeal the decision.
What does this Libertarian Think?
I’m pretty much in total agreement with all events. I’m certain the teacher did nothing legally wrong and the fact criminal charges were never filed in this teacher sex scandal is correct. The young person was of legal age when the alleged sex occurred and not a student.
That being said, the circumstances of the case bring the teacher’s judgment into question. The idea of grooming is real and dangerous. I think the regulatory agency within their rights to suspend the teacher and I think the William Hulme school had every right to fire him.
That being said, I do think there are plenty of situations when a teacher can have sex with a former student without repercussions. Imagine a teacher who has a favorite student, sends that student off to higher education, ten years later the student returns and the two begin an adult, mutually consensual relationship. I don’t think the school, the regulatory body, or the law has any right to argue they know better than the two adults.
That’s one of the reasons I’m largely against zero-tolerance rules. It’s important to take in the totality of the particular situation before passing judgement.
Look at the circumstances of the situation, assess them as is best possible, come to the most equitable solution. That’s all we can ever do.