Melissa Petro Gives Up Her Fight to be a Teacher after Prostitution Revelation

Melissa Petro
Melissa Petro, the elementary school art teacher who admitted in a Huffington Post article to having worked as a prostitute, spoke publicly today about her resignation from the city's Department of Education.

Standing in a small gallery in the National Arts Club, with her lawyer, Gloria Allred by her side, Petro, read from a prepared statement, "It was my belief," she said, "that the First Amendment protected my right to publish my experiences and opinions - however controversial."

Pietro, who resigned late last month and promised never again to seek employment with the D.O.E., continued, "Although I could have fought my removal I have decided, instead, to move on. Regardless of the outcome of a trial, which I have every reason to believe I would have won, I do not believe I would have ever been welcomed back to the classroom by the Department of Education."

Petro, 31, worked as an art teacher at P.S. 70, in the Bronx. In a Huffington Post essay, she explained that she had sold sex through Craigslist posts between October 2006 and January 2007. Petro says she stopped working as a prostitute a few months before she become a teacher.

Petro recently gave a fascinating two-part interview to Marie Claire magazine.

In the interview, she explained why she chose to become a call girl, and details what the life was like. She says: "You know, the men that I met as clients are not unlike the men you'd meet anywhere else. I think this is what women don't realize when they think, "oh I could never." The next time you're on a subway, look around at the men you see--now, zero in on the guys in suits in their twenties and thirties, maybe one or two that aren't in suits but they've got nice shoes so you know they've got a little money. These were my customers. They were not unlike, for example, the men that I met online some months after giving up prostitution, when I tried online dating--which was awful, just awful, much worse than prostitution. In fact, sometimes they were the same men--I mean, I'd see pictures of guys I'd met as clients who were now looking for "real" dates. These were just your typical average-Joe types--maybe a little above average, many of them--because I do think it takes some balls to call a pro and pay a couple hundred dollars for a date."

Though previous press accounts have noted otherwise, today Petro said that some of her colleagues at her school knew about her prior career.

On a separate note, Allred did not have any news to report about another client well known to New Yorkers: Debrahlee Lorenzana. Lorenzana, the ex-Citibanker who alleged that she was fired from Citibank after her bosses found her to be too attractive, is still waiting for her arbitration hearing, Allred says. Why is it taking so long? Allred had no comment.

We broke the story of Debrahlee Lorenzana last June.

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Good for Melissa to write about her life. Sadly the prejudice still exists even though paying or being paid for sex is something that happens and . . . . well quite frankly so what - What she did is not illegal and therefore I hope she gets compensation for unfair dismisal.  Melissa will stand proud for sure.


Her mistake was in believing that we have protected rights of free speech and privacy - only corporations actually have guaranteed free speech and actual, enforceable rights to privacy. What WE have is a law that says congress may not create laws abridging free speech and privacy. They cannot limit these things, but they also do not have any obligation to forcefully protect them. Mainly because the common people do not have billionaires and lawyers badgering and influencing the supreme court in their favor.

If we truly had free speech and privacy protections, you could say whatever you want about whatever you want, whether at work, school, or on Facebook and have no fear of prosecution or being fired. And if we had a right to privacy, the government would not be monitoring the communications of innocent and law-abiding people without probable cause - but they do it, all day, every day.

Wake up and smell the fascism.


This is one reason why sex workers argue against actual legalization. If we have to register with the government as a sex worker, it will interfere with our ability to seek out legitimate jobs if and when we want to. Legalization sounds good but it won't change the publics view overnight (nor in our lifetime).

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