Teacher punished for revealing her sex worker past on the Huffington Post

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Melissa Petro was an art teacher at PS 70 in the Bronx for the past three years, but now she's been removed from her classroom and is under investigation because she wrote an article for the Huffington Post about the shutting down of Craiglist's "adult services" section in which revealed her brief stint as a prostitute. (She — like many sex workers who used the section, as well as many other people who realize that shutting down the "adult services" section doesn't really address any underlying problems associated with the dangers of sex work — does not approve of Craigslist's decision.)

Petro felt it was important to use her real name on the article to make her point:

In an off the record conversation, a sympathetic administrator kindly asked if I couldn't publish under a pseudonym. I wish, for her sake, I could. But for sake of the rights and integrity of myself and every other man or woman who makes or has made choices similar to mine, and then tries to make sense of these choices, I cannot.  

Luckily for her, her employers and the parents of her students were totally cool about it and realized that she is no longer a prostitute and that she's teaching kids how to draw with multiple vanishing points on the horizon line, not how to turn tricks. Oh, wait, no they didn't:

Yocelyn Quezada said perhaps Petro had managed to turn her life around, but she still fumed that a former money honey was teaching two of her three kids.

"She's not a good role model. I do not want my daughters to find out about this," Quezada said, "and I do not want my daughters to be around that kind of person."


While using a fake name would certainly saved her a lot of grief, I have to admire Petro for taking a stand for the rights and protection of sex workers at the potential cost of her job. Petro is currently on administrative duty while the "investigation" is being completed.