Alex Blaze

Teacher Fired for Posting Gay Sex Ad on Craigslist

Filed By Alex Blaze | April 07, 2011 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: California, Craigslist ad, frank lampedusa, san diego, sex

Frank Lampedusa, a teacher at a San Diego public school, was fired for putting up an ad with pictures on Craigslist's "men seeking men" section. He didn't use his name or mention the school. He fought the decision, got reinstated by a professional commission, but then lost the school's appeal this week.

craigslist.pngThe appeals court agreed with the school district that Lampedusa's conduct fit the Education Code definition of "immoral conduct." The district had appealed the commission's ruling.

The ad included explicit pictures and a graphic explanation of the kinds of sexual activities that Lampedusa preferred. The ad, however, did not include his name or school affiliation.

In a commission hearing, Lampedusa said he had placed similar ads four or five times in the past. The appeals court, in agreeing with the school district, noted that Lampedusa did not accept that the ad was improper because it might be seen by students or their parents.

The government firing a person over a clause as vague as "immoral conduct" (which the court said depends on "moral indifference to the opinions of respectable members of the community") sounds like it shouldn't be legal. It's a rule in the same genre as city ordinances against "public lewdness" or "public indecency" that don't include a definition and let police officers decide what it means on a case-by-case basis.

When denying people a government job or taking away their rights, there should be clear rules of what's appropriate and what isn't, and seeking gay sex on Craigslist isn't immoral conduct in my book.

That said, I'd hate to get caught up in what the school had a right to do and forget what they should have done. Would a straight teacher similarly situated have been fired? It's hard to say.

According to the appellate court decision, an anonymous parent found this ad, complete with pics of the teacher's anus, penis, body, and face, and called the police:

Horned up all weekend and need release

In shape guy, masc, attractive, 32 waist, swimmer's build, horny as fuck. Looking to suck and swallow masc guys, also looking to get fucked. Uncut and huge shooters jump to head of line. Give my [sic] your loads so I can shoot mine. White, black, Hispanic, European, all good. No fats, fems, queens, asians. NO BELLIES. Have pics when you email.

(Yeah... he doesn't sound like that great of a human being, but he wasn't fired for his sexual racism, looks and gender fascism, and unsafe sex practices.)

Now, would a straight male teacher have placed ad like that even if that's what the straight male teacher wanted to do? I really doubt it. And that might have been part of what got the parent to call the police. Even though the ad doesn't mention anything illegal, there are lots of straight people who think that raw sexuality and unapologetic desire are the same thing as rape and child molestation, even if they've gotten over the gay thing.

Or maybe the parent called the police because the teacher was gay. Who knows. The parent who was looking at Craigslist's men seeking men ads remains anonymous.

The police contacted the school, the school asked the teacher to remove the ad, and six months later Lampedusa was fired because the principal "questioned his ability to served as a role model for students."

Teachers should be held to standards of comportment in front of students, whether at school or not at school, but the chances that a middle school student was going to troll Craigslist for gay sex and find the ad were low. The fact that the teacher removed the ad after the school informed him of it shows that he wasn't trying to be found by the students or his work.

And that's important. The appellate court's decision defended the fact that he was fired (and not merely punished) because it found that the Craigslist ad was a sign of a deep character flaw:

Section 44932, subdivision (a)(5) provides that a permanent employee of a public
school district may be dismissed for evident unfitness for service. In the context of a
teacher, " 'evident unfitness for service' . . . means 'clearly not fit, not adapted to or
unsuitable for teaching, ordinarily by reason of temperamental defects or inadequacies.'
Unlike 'unprofessional conduct,' 'evident unfitness for service' connotes a fixed character
trait, presumably not remediable merely on receipt of notice that one's conduct fails to
meet the expectations of the employing school district." (Woodland Joint Unified School
Dist. v. Commission on Professional Competence (1992) 2 Cal.App.4th 1429, 1444, fn.
omitted.

More importantly, if a student was already searching Craigslist ads for gay sex, there's nothing in that ad that would have shocked him. It's just a jerk saying what he wants out of a sexual partner - middle school students have sexual desires of their own and pretending like they don't only keeps them from learning how to handle them.

But the court cited over and over again the principal's reaction to the ad as evidence that Lampedusa couldn't do his job after the ad was discovered. How can a teacher possibly work after his principal says she "questioned his ability to served as a role model for students"? Apparently the police don't get blamed for exposing the principal to this ad that she wouldn't have otherwise seen, and apparently she can't just be told to get over herself.

I don't see how that standard doesn't eviscerate any employment protection for government workers; while an employer may not have a right to fire an employee for X, they're still allowed to fire the employee if the employer says she lost confidence in the employee because of X? That's an almost universal work-around.

We still live in a culture that wants to promote asexuality among young people and does it mostly by putting its fingers on its ears and singing. Teachers and others who work with children are held to a higher standard not because eunuchs are the only people fit to work with children, but because we're stupid.

Although Lampedusa didn't have to include a face pic. Let this be message to all of you out there on cruisey sites with ads that say, "Include a face pic in your profile or I won't respond": some people have real reasons for not putting a face pic in their ads and face pics shouldn't be encouraged.

This is also a warning to everyone who has a face pic on a profile somewhere: what would your employer think if she found it?

image of Craigslist's site taken by me


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Seeking sex in any form is immoral. I completely agree with the ruling. It's that kind of people that give the rest of us a bad name. I'm sorry lot see your your view of morality is so low.
This is certainly not the type of person I'd want having such an influence in my kids life.

Mike

Om Kalthoum | April 7, 2011 2:26 PM

The man, Frank Lampedusa, worked with middle school students, grades six through eight.

Lampedusa's listing...[was] titled "Horned up all weekend and need release" and contained the following text:

"In shape guy, masc, attractive, 32 waist, swimmer's build, horny as fuck. Looking to suck and swallow masc guys, also looking to get fucked. Uncut and huge shooters jump to head of line. Give my [sic] your loads so I can shoot mine. White, black, Hispanic, European, all good. No fats, fems, queens, asians. NO BELLIES. Have pics when you email."

The ad also contained four pictures of Lampedusa: the first of his face, torso and abdomen, the second of his anus, the third of his genitalia, and the fourth of his face and upper torso. The listing did not contain Lampedusa's name, contact information, profession, or any mention of his employment by the District or Farb.

[text from the Appellate Court's reversal www.courtinfo.ca.gov/opinions/nonpub/D057740.PDF]

Om Kalthoum | April 7, 2011 2:29 PM

Not only did I post this comment in the wrong place originally, but I didn't realize there was a "below the break" part to Alex's article that contained most of this info. So, you know, never mind.

Jaime Dunaway Jaime Dunaway | April 7, 2011 2:41 PM

There are also straight teachers that get fired for putting nudes online, usually females. And yes, teachers are held to higher standards than many, but in my opinion, they should be where something like this is concerned. He should have done it on a members only site and certainly not have posted his face along with nudes.

It's not the raunchy gay sex ad that bothers me, it's the grossly racist and fatphobic attitude the ad reveals. I would be deeply concerned over him letting those attitudes spill over into his professional conduct.

@Jaime:
"And yes, teachers are held to higher standards than many, but in my opinion, they should be where something like this is concerned."

Why teachers specifically? There are lots of other people who deal with young people in close quarters including therapists, Boys/Girls Club staff, school bus drivers, other school district staff, nurses/doctors, after school activities, tutors, sports coaches... the list goes on. (notice I haven't even mentioned clergy) So none of them should be able to post sex ads either? Anywhere? And if so, what kinds of sex ads... what should/shouldn't the ads contain? Should parents lose their parental rights if they put sex ads in potentially public places? If you're going to make blanket statements about what conduct teachers should be held to, then I would hope you'd consider how teachers do not actually hold some morally sensitive unique position in society.

My boundaries about issues like this are very specifically around sex ads involving underage persons... yes, then I think it's an issue. Also, issues involving discrimination surrounding populations the teacher may potentially encounter. Yes, if I think the teacher's ad made bigoted/offensive statements about who he didn't want to have sex with then I think it's an issue because of the bigoted content... not the sexuality.

Read the article and then the comments. For me, this is a tough call. On the one hand, people should be free to do what they want on their own time, and the policy used is pretty vague, and it is true that most any student surfing there probably wouldn't be shocked or even care about the ad, but teenagers do surf sites like that just to see who they see, and I can see the page getting printed out and passed around the school (or linked to by everyone on Facebook).

Society does hold teachers to a higher standard. Just having contact with children or teenagers doesn't create the increased scrutiny, but the fact they are "teachers," most of whom are interested in presenting themselves as professionals is what raises the bar. This is sort of one of those Justice Potter moments (to paraphrase, I can't define porn, but I know it when I see it). That is a dangerous slope, but in this case, I have to think the teacher probably crossed a line. He should know the identifiable photo put him jeopardy...and yes straight males and female teachers have been fired for the same thing.

But in the end, I'm glad I didn't have to make the ruling.

I'm with you, John. The face pic kinda pits it in the "students could lose confidence" since it's easily identifiable as the teacher. Combine that with pics of his asshole & genitals, and that's a recipe for disaster if a student found it. And students could find it on craig's list; if it was a membership only site that did age verification, I don't think I'd be so quick to agree tho.

@Bil
What if it wasn't a sex ad... what if it was a personal ad which clearly identified the teacher as being gay or trans, is the district okay in firing them then? That's where this is all leading. You want to call out their behavior as unacceptable... well lots of people consider you being gay and I being trans as 'behavior.' Teachers are already endlessly shat upon by this society (no matter what happy-talk speak we get from politicians and Oprah about how supposedly important they are) so now everyone gets to call them on their standards of behavior? That sounds like "The Crucible."

The real question: does his behavior in putting in this ad directly impact his performance as a teacher (as, for instance, a bus driver or air traffic controller getting drunk clearly would)? No. So now it comes down to what's your version of acceptable behavior and, again, there are lots of people who think you shouldn't be within a mile of their kids... do they get to fire you? If he put his name in the ad and showed his naked chest do they get to fire him? If he shows his face and mentions being a bottom do they get to fire him? Slippery slope indeed!

after reading the stories about this and now the judgment there is one question left outstanding - why was the parent who found the posting looking at that website and why then did he/she point it out to the principal?

as a former elementary school administrator and a member of the lgbtq community, this one would be very difficult for me; he did break the code of conduct that he agreed to follow by accepting the position; what we do in our private lives is our business; if the matter had remained private the issue would be moot, but bringing it to the point of not just a hearing but an actual trial appeal, it now does effect his ability to perform his job, at least in that school/district;

the most important charge that can actually be brought against him is 'stupidity'; it's one of those things that when you're in a public position, rightly or wrongly, you have to accept the responsibility of being more careful; and that goes for straight as well as gay people...

i would have done the same thing that the principal did, but i would have tried to make it as quiet as possible so as not to affect the kids as much as possible...

Well, I have to disagree with this out-dated conservative view of teachers and their behavior. While I think it speaks to poor judgment on the part of the teacher, he was not soliciting sex from minors (or his students!). I know many teachers who are straight and gay who have ads on social media sites, including somewhat "raunchy" gay ones. If this had a teacher of one of my children, I would not have been disturbed by it. Let's do the hard work of evaluating teachers on classroom performance and outcomes of their teaching and not the sex they want to have on a weekend. This is one more fracture in the American educational system...screwed up priorities. Oh, by the way, why was the parent of a middle school student looking at gay sex ads on Craig's List? (and then have the audacity to complain???!!!)

You must search in the gay section to find this ad. I wonder how it was found. Was this this the case of a person hideing there gay nature that was turned down and wanter revenge? I think we need to look at how this was started.