As a result of both nostalgia and quarantine-induced free time, I decided to go through some boxes of old papers in my family's basement. I got lost poring over childhood drawings, old certificates, and the like. While shuffling through, I found a piece of paper from ninth grade, on which I had jotted down some things for my mom to bring into a meeting with my algebra teacher. He had deeply unsettled me with some of his comments, and they are not any less concerning in retrospect.
To start, I should disclose to incident that prompted me to talk to my family about his behavior, which I detailed in the note I found: "He looked up at my legs and exclaimed, "woah, that's a lot of leg" even though I was covering my legs with opaque tights. I gave him a look and he just laughed and said, "sorry Stella," but he was taunting me, not apologizing." I had been the first person to arrive in the classroom that day, so this happened with no witnesses. I remember sitting in silence for what felt like far longer than it actually was before the next student came into the classroom. I felt too self conscious to wear skirts for the duration of the school year, despite the fact that my skirt adhered to the dress code, there were tights underneath, and nobody else had commented on it. That semester, he also told female students he could see their "hickeys," even if they were just birthmarks. Regardless, he had no legitimate justification for commenting on anyone's body, much less those of his underaged students.
Among some of the first bullet points in my note addressed the blatant homophobic and transphobic comments he had made in class, which were just a few verbatim examples of many. First, I wrote: "Recalled his 'awful' trip to Vegas because of 'dumb crossdressers.'" While this is sadly typical of a straight, white, middle-aged man living in Georgia to say, I wrote next that he "comment[ed] on a girl in class having 'an adam's apple,'" which, at best, is completely inappropriate, and at worst, is obviously transphobic. Whether this girl identified as cis or trans, commenting on a supposedly 'masculine' characteristic of hers was completely inappropriate.
Before school one day, my mom had a meeting with this teacher. I roamed the hallways at 7 a.m. with a knot in my stomach. Not surprisingly, he denied everything. He didn't call on me or look me in the eye for the remainder of the semester. Parents of other students had similar meetings with him over the next few years before he left the school. I have no idea whether or not the school administration knew about his behavior, or if they would've taken it seriously if they did. Nevertheless, his objectification of female-identifying students and transphobic comments had no place in our class.