Oregon Law to Allow Convicted Prostitutes to Become Teachers

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," April 13, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: Sex education could take on a whole new meaning in Oregon. A bill in the state Senate would allow convicted prostitutes to become state-licensed teachers.

I'm joined by Sue Comfort, a case manager at the Sponsors Women's Transition Program.

Sue, today's big question, should convicted prostitutes be allowed to teach our kids?

SUE COMFORT, SPONSORS WOMEN TRANSITION PROGRAM: Absolutely. How long do they have to continue to pay for a crime? I think their debt to society has been paid.


GIBSON: Sue, there probably is a good argument and you probably will make it — I don't know if it will carry the day — but there probably is a good argument for this.

But I was really kind of blown away by the idea that no one spoke against it in the state hearings. No one spoke up. Did that surprise you?

COMFORT: I don't even know what to say to that. I wasn't aware of that.

GIBSON: You know, there's opposition to everything, Sue Comfort.


GIBSON: I mean, I thought it was amazing and it made a statement about Oregon. For one thing, I would think the proponents of such a measure would kind of welcome somebody objecting, so they could explain why it's good idea. But nobody showed up at the state Senate to even object. And I thought that was odd.

COMFORT: I don't even know where to go with that, for the simple fact that these women have paid their price. They've done what they needed to do.

GIBSON: OK. All right. Then what about this?

COMFORT: If they had taken the time, the energy...

GIBSON: Kids...


COMFORT: Can I finish?

GIBSON: Well, but I understand your point.

COMFORT: Can I finish, please?

GIBSON: No, I want to understand your...


COMFORT: I haven't made my point yet. I haven't made my point yet.

GIBSON: Well, no, you did. You made your point that they have done their time.

But the kids now look up, can look up at the woman and say: "Well, wait a minute. She was a prostitute. She pulled herself together. I could do that, too."

COMFORT: I wouldn't think that conversation would come up in a classroom with anybody that had any ethics at all.

If I walked into a classroom pregnant, I wouldn't explain how that happened. If I were gay, I wouldn't break that down for my students either.

GIBSON: But we're seeing every day teachers having relationships with students they shouldn't have. Why wouldn't we think that might come up once in a while?

COMFORT: How could you not think it wouldn't come up once in a while? Look at this world. Things happen all the time. You have got to look at the other 99.9 percent that know not to do it and don't do it. If you look hard enough, you can find one thing happen anywhere.

GIBSON: Well, the law has been on the book for some time, that prostitutes, convicted prostitutes couldn't be teachers. Why should it be changed?

COMFORT: This is what I was getting at earlier. I think anybody that's taken the time to go get their degrees, get their life together and earned the right to live a normal life should be able to do it.

GIBSON: Sue Comfort, the Sponsors Women Transition Program. Sue, thanks a lot. Appreciate it. We'll see what happens in Oregon.

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