School Counselor's Sex Advice Book Not Protected Speech - Civil Rights Law - U.S. Seventh Circuit
U.S. Seventh Circuit - The FindLaw 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

School Counselor's Sex Advice Book Not Protected Speech

You can file this under "Guidance Counselors' I'm Glad I Never Had," or whatever it is you call your miscellaneous crazy file (you know, the file were you keep print outs of the most ridiculous stuff you've read). Said guidance counselor published an adult "sex advice" book, and then was surprised when he lost his job as a tenured guidance counselor at a public school, in a Chicago suburb.

"It's Her Fault"

Bryan Craig was a guidance counselor and women's basketball coach at a public high school. On July 2012, he published "It's Her Fault" , a book of relationship advice for women (because, you know, the best relationship advice is to take the blame for everything). In addition to making reference to things not appropriate to discuss here, one of his many pearls of wisdom included this: "women act based on emotion alone instead of emotion plus intellect."

In September 2012, school board officials learned about the book, and fired Craig. He sued the board, and officials, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging he was fired in retaliation for protected speech under the First Amendment.

The district court dismissed his complaint for failure to state a claim noting that "It's Her Fault" was not a matter of public concern, and therefore was not afforded the protections of the First Amendment. In fact, the district court found the book "little more than a lurid account of plaintiff's own sexual preferences and exploits." Craig appealed.

Legal Analysis

The Seventh Circuit disagreed with the district court's holding that Craig's speech was not in the public interest, citing the popularity of relationship advice columns. That said, the Seventh Circuit affirmed on other grounds, because it found that the school district's interest in avoiding "interference with work, personnel relationships, or the speaker's job performance."

Here, because Craig was a guidance counselor and coach, the court found that the district "reasonably predicted that 'It's Her Fault' would interfere with the learning environment" because without a "safe space" to approach Craig, "his students ... will not approach him and he cannot do his job."

Hey Craig, here's some advice for you: If you want to self-publish a book that will get you fired, try using a pseudonym (FYI: I used my emotion AND intellect to come up with that one).

Related Resources: