When An Instructor Says Something Inappropriate

When An Instructor Says Something Inappropriate

SAFE Halloween

I have always been rather comfortable with my body. I don’t ‘show off’ or anything like that, but I don’t mind showing a lot of leg or open chest. They’re not really anything to be ashamed of. At my school’s SAFE Halloween event I dressed up as a female Joker (I love all things superheroes) and I felt happy in what I was wearing – some purple tights, my favorite heels (black and sparkly), a slightly loose Joker blazer from Spirit Halloween, and a short black dress. This dress has always made me feel confident. It’s what I wore back during freshman year the day after two of my friends made me feel insecure about myself and I spoke to my favorite staff member about the issue.

Overall, I felt confident in what I was wearing, and I got so many compliments on my costume and my makeup. It wasn’t until my school’s JROTC (Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) Instructor spoke to me and one of my friends. At first the interaction was normal – him telling us that he like our costumes. Then, he asked me who I was, and I responded, “Female Joker.” I immediately became uncomfortable when he said, “You’re a very hot female joker.” I smiled and pretended to be okay with the comment, hoping that maybe he didn’t really think about what he was saying at first. Then he asked my friend, “And who are you?” “Just a clown,” she responded. The man told her, “Well, you’re a very hot clown.” I didn’t and still haven’t spoken to her about how she felt, but she also seemed to have an uncomfortable smile. He stopped talking to us when our Leadership teacher walked over, but the two men did talk in front of us about how good of students are in our Leadership program this year (thought this is normal considering that our teacher loves to brag about how good of students he has). I didn’t feel somewhat comfortable until the JROTC Instructor left us alone.

I’m writing this three days after Halloween, and I don’t know how to feel comfortable anymore. Going back to school makes me feel uncomfortable in fear of seeing the teacher again. I actually did pass by him yesterday, but there’s no way he could recognize me without all of my face paint on. At that time, I was just some teenage girl in jeans and a loose long sleeve shirt. But I don’t want to have to dress like that to feel comfortable.

The only times that I have really felt like this is when one of my parents’ friends says something on social media, but that’s usually taken care of quickly, and I forget about it in a short amount of time. Even when I did ballet and cheerleading I never had to deal with adults saying things that made me so uncomfortable with myself. Especially not from an adult that so many of my friends trust. I don’t know what to do now. I’ve never felt so uncomfortable in my own skin.


What you are feeling is completely understandable. It is NOT ok for adults, especially teachers, persons of authority in a school setting, to make comments to kids that would likely make the child, or teen, feel uncomfortable.

When a person calls another person “hot”, in that context, the term usually means  attractive or even sexually desirable. That is completely inappropriate for an adult to use that term on a young child or teen,  and so it is completely valid that you feel very uncomfortable. 

Talk to this instructor’s supervisor, or the school principal or assistant principal about this issue. The school should investigate this matter promptly, and take immediate action. 

You have every right to feel comfortable and safe in your school environment. You have to feel that way in order to succeed and thrive In school.

It’s also important for you to know that you didn’t do anything wrong and that what that instructor said was inappropriate. Don’t let him, or anyone for that matter, take away your power to feel safe and comfortable in your own skin, or even in life. Take control, by making it clear that you felt uncomfortable by what was said and seek support and help from the right people. 


How would you advise your friend if she came to you with the same issue? 

Who is a trusted adult or counselor that you can talk to about how you felt about the instructor’s comment? 

What would you tell the instructor about how you felt after that comment if he asked? 

Moving forward, how would you respond if someone  makes an inappropriate comment to you or if they made you feel uncomfortable?