Here's a scenario where writing under a pseudonym is a wise choice: You're a former prostitute turned elementary schoolteacher and you're venting to the Huffington Post about the recent Craigslist erotic services shutdown. One schoolteacher didn't choose the anonymous route.
Melissa Petro has been an art teacher in the Bronx for the last three years. Prior to that job, she writes at the Huffington Post, "from October 2006 to January 2007 I accepted money in exchange for sexual services I provided to men I met online in what was then called the "erotic services" section of Craigslist.org." No problem there. Except for the fact that Petro used her real name for the September 7 piece, while she's currently working as an elementary schoolteacher.
This isn't to say that accepting money for sex from a Craigslist ad is bad, at all. Shutting down the erotic services section was a stupid idea. Nor should doing so bar someone from becoming a teacher. But sometimes common sense should trump the need to express yourself (using your real name) to a very, very wide audience. It's just hard to see the need to use your real name in a situation like this, where you know parents of third graders are going to be upset. Naturally, the Post is all over this "exclusive" story, and the paper quotes angry parents, like Grace Ventura, who said, "I don't want nobody that used to do that to be around my kid." And Yocelyn Quezada, who told the paper, "She's not a good role model. I do not want my daughters to find out about this, and I do not want my daughters to be around that kind of person." Reactions like that from parents are to be expected, no?
Petro is tenured, and has been reassigned pending an investigation, so who knows how it will all turn out for her. All we can say is, good luck!
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