Jewish World Review June 5, 2002 / 24 Sivan, 5762
The school has told the mother that since her finances are a problem, it would help with the daughter's tuition and try to find the mother other employment. The mother at first refused the offer, and then she agreed in order to allow her daughter to stay for kindergarten graduation. After receiving national publicity, however, she posed nude for Playboy on the Internet.
What should the school do?
Legally, there is no problem. The school has the absolute right to determine whom it admits, whom it keeps, and whom it expels.
But the question is not whether the school has the right to expel the girl. The question is whether the school is right if it does expel the girl.
There are only two arguments for expelling the girl. One is that the mother's stripping is having a negative effect on the students. The other is that the school wishes to create a religious community among the parents.
There are no other good arguments for a school, even a conservative religious one, expelling a student whose mother is a stripper. I write this as a member of the board of directors of a religious Jewish day school.
If religious schools start expelling students whose parents sin, it goes without saying that no students will remain in school. Therefore, the question is: For which sins of parents should a child be expelled from a Christian school?
More specifically, should a parent's stripping - as opposed to other parental sins - necessarily mean that a child must be expelled?
One possible answer is that of all sins, this one is so grievous as to be intolerable. But this needs to be thought through. Is it because it is a sexual sin? If so, why keep students whose unmarried mothers are living with a boyfriend or who have a succession of boyfriends staying overnight? And what about a child whose married mother or father is having an affair?
Nobody would ever propose expelling the children of these sexual sinners.
So what is the difference between their sin and stripping? I can think of only one - the stripper's actions are done in public while unmarried cohabitation and married parents' affairs are done in private. And once public, other children can find out about it and end up having 7-year-olds talking about so-and-so's mother, the stripper.
If that were to happen, the school could be adversely hurt, not because the mother is a sexual sinner but because discussion of her occupation can hurt the children's innocence.
Beyond that and the possible aim to create a religious adult community, there is no other reason that justifies expelling a child for a stripper's sins. And as far as sins go, strippers do considerably less harm to our society than many trial lawyers and television producers. Even regarding stripping, moreover, it is hard to believe that any school would expel the child of an actress who took off her clothes in a feature film, even though far more people would recognize that mother than a mother who stripped at a local strip joint. Unquestionably, there is a hypocritical bias against strippers. Those who strip for millions of dollars in films are considered stars while those who do it in clubs for a hundred dollars a night are considered sinners. I suspect that few religious schools would even consider expelling Sharon Stone's daughter, despite the actress's stripping in "Basic Instinct."
So, then, who is the biggest villain here? It is the person or persons who publicized the mother's work. Until someone told the school, no one was hurt (but the stripper herself), and the daughter was receiving a religious values-based education that would likely ensure that she never becomes a stripper. That person or whoever publicized the case is probably the biggest sinner here. Gossiping often hurts more people than even stripping.
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