A former New York teacher is threatening to sue a school district for gender discrimination after she was fired, saying it was because a topless photo of herself had gone public.
Lauren Miranda, who taught math at the Bellport Middle School on Long Island since 2015, sent the selfie, taken in her bedroom in 2016, to her then-boyfriend, who is also a teacher at the school, ABC New York station WABC reported.
Somehow, a student got hold of the image, and it circulated throughout the school, allegedly prompting the South County Central School District to fire her last week, saying she was no longer a role model, her attorney, John Ray claimed in a press conference Monday. Miranda does not know how the student obtained the photo, she said.
"What is wrong with my image?" she said at the news conference. "It's my breasts. It's my chest. It's my body. It's something that should be celebrated."
Miranda said her termination sends a negative message to female students.
"What message are we sending to them?” Miranda asked. "To roll over when your picture gets exposed without your permission or consent?"
It is legal in the state of New York for women to go topless in public. Both Miranda and Ray claim men do not suffer similar consequences when their chests are exposed.
"Any time a man has ever exposed his chest, no one has ever commented or had any problem with it whatsoever," Ray said. "But, when a woman displays her chest, as happened here, she gets fired from her job."
Miranda plans to sue the school district for $3 million if she is not re-hired. A review Miranda provided to WABC from last year states she is a "highly effective teacher" and that she was up for tenure in June.
"Ms. Miranda demonstrated in this lesson to be an outstanding Math instructor, knowledgeable of her content area, but most of all genuinely dedicated to the academic progress of her students," the review stated, according to WABC.
A representative for the school district did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment but told WABC it "does not comment on active litigation."
One parent, Randy Miller, told WABC that Miranda should take responsibility for her actions.
"Whether her intentions were for a student to get it or they weren't, a student did, and you have to be responsible for your actions," Miller said.
Another parent, Arlene Henao, told the station she understands why Miranda was fired, but acknowledged the situation is "probably more complicated than just a black-and-white situation."