73-year-old teacher fired for vintage erotica gets a second chance

The Internet played a part in her firing, but the power of social media may have helped get her job back.

Mar 1, 2020, 6:52 pm*

Internet Culture

 

Aja Romano

A 73-year-old Canadian teacher was fired in July from a position she held for 15 years because she starred in softcore porn films in the '70s. Thanks to Internet backlash, she may have won the right to reclaim her job.

Ironically, the Internet was the reason drama teacher Jacqueline Laurent-Auger lost her job to begin with.

Laurent-Auger taught at Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf, an all-boys Christian academy in Montreal until July. The school terminated her contract over the discovery that, as a young actress, she had performed erotic scenes in several European films, including Swedish Sex Games, Hot and Naked, and The Secret Diary of a Nymphomaniac. Her film career spanned nine years between 1969 and 1978, after which she focused on work as a comedian. Eventually she opened a theatre company that did educational workshops and classes for students, including those at Brebeuf. 

As reported by Radio Canada, Laurent-Auger said in a letter it was the discovery of her IMDb biography, which she claimed she didn't even know existed, that led to her students stumbling over her decades-old nude images. 

Despite Laurent-Auger's positive history as a teacher, the school felt the recent revelations about Laurent-Auger's former career exploits made it impossible for her to continue teaching. In an interview with Radio Canada, the school's director Michel April described her film history as an "element of distraction" that would make it difficult for her to "control her classroom." His remarks angered many Quebec citizens who felt that the school's decision was akin to slut-shaming

 "I have always had positive feedback from parents and students," Laurent-Auger wrote in the letter protesting her firing, noting that her body of work was part of the moral emancipation of the '70s.

"If young people have so much freedom of expression nowadays, that's probably because there were men and women like me who once paved the way towards a creative space that allows great freedom of expression."

Laurent-Auger also told the Globe and Mail that the films were not explicit.

The school evidently disagreed, however. After news of the firing went viral in Quebec last week, Brébeuf released a statement in which it blamed Laurent-Auger and the Internet equally.

“The availability on the Internet of erotic films in which she acted created an entirely new context that was not ideal for our students,” the school said. “After discussion and reflection, we concluded that adult films must remain just that, a product for adults. That’s why we decided not to renew Mrs. Laurent-Auger’s contract.”

After sustained backlash against the school over the past week, including from former students who came to Laurent-Auger's defense, the opinion of the school seems to have changed. In a statement issued Tuesday, the school acknowledged that "the whole issue could have been handled differently," and said that it had initiated a discussion with Laurent-Auger to "return in new roles to the Brébeuf community."

The school has also pledged to host a public discussion within its community on "sexuality, digital platforms and social networks in educational settings." In a statement, the school said: This exercise is part of the role that the College has played in education in Quebec and is part of a public debate that clearly needs to be had... College management wants Ms. Laurent-Auger to have a stake in this debate, if desired."

Canadian Twitter promptly welcomed the news, with many continuing to laud Laurent-Auger's handling of the issue in the face of the publicity. 

Hopefully she’ll soon be able to teach her new students how to maintain both.

Screengrab via Radio Canada

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*First Published: Oct 22, 2014, 8:00 am