A former teacher from Virginia is suing the school district where she used to work, saying she was told to dress in a “more feminine” way and harassed for being a lesbian.
Persico, who has filed a federal lawsuit, told 8News that administrators told her that her “appearance is too flamboyant.”
She added: “It’s said with intent and that intent is to say that you’re gay.”
Former civics teacher: I was told my appearance is “too flamboyant”
The ex-teacher said the alleged harassment was started by staff at Providence Middle School but got worse when she moved on to work at Midlothian High School.
“It was suggested that if I seemed more feminine, I would be less intimidating as a person,” explained Persico.
Persico claimed that one school principal even questioned her appearance, telling her: “If you just throw a skirt on once in a while, we wouldn’t have any of these problems.”
She claimed that on one occasion she was banned from using the women’s toilets.
“It was suggested that if I seemed more feminine, I would be less intimidating as a person.”
The former teacher, who was praised by her students at both schools in the district, explained that she normally wore a shirt, trousers, trainers, and a sweater or fleece to work.
She said that her work outfits were similar to those of other colleagues, highlighting one male English teacher specifically, who were not asked to change their appearance.
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Persico’s employees handbook contains little information on the dress code, stating only that teachers must have a “professional image.”
Lesbian teacher claims she was banned from women’s restroom
Persico also alleged that she was asked to grow bangs in a school meeting where her wife, who is also a teacher, was present.
Her wife Erin Guthe told 8News: “It’s very clear to me that my wife was discriminated against because of the way that she expresses her gender.
“I think I and women like me are given more of a pass because we appear more feminine.”
Persico said she had a mini-stroke, which her doctor said was “100 percent related to stress.”
Chesterfield Schools declined to provide a statement to 8News, saying it did not comment on pending lawsuits.
Persico said she hopes the lawsuit will mean that the district trains staff properly and that employees learn that what “they did to me was wildly inappropriately.”
Watch the video with lesbian teacher Dina Persico below: