A story made its rounds on the Internet (including this blog) this weekend and on Monday after a Florida high school allegedly suspended a senior "Noel" (I am going to use his Sean Cody name not his real name, which is easy enough to find if you want to do so) when the principal discovered the student had appeared in multiple gay porn movies on popular site Sean Cody.
Noel makes no apologies for performing in porn and considers his work like any other job, and quite honestly, he has the body (i.e. more than adequate equipment) for porn, if you know what I mean. Until two weeks ago, the 18-year-old (he turned 18 in June 2013) was like any other high school senior, but he said when students at Cocoa High School discovered his videos on an adult website, they started showing each other his explicit pictures on their phones at school.
The move by the public high school sparked outrage on social media, causing students to rally behind Noel through Facebook groups and campus demonstrations.
Now, it is being reported that following an investigation school administrators are allowing Noel to return to school grounds -- though they reportedly won't give an exact reason for the suspension, citing privacy laws.
"It's easy to become emotional about a situation when it looks like a student is being targeted for his lifestyle choices, that is not the case here," school district spokeswoman Michelle Irwin told reporters. "We will continue to work with the student and his family to make sure he graduates and moves on with his education."
"No child would ever be suspended for a job that they have outside of the school environment," said Irwin. However, when reporters asked why then he was suspended, administrators said they received information that Noel made threats, after students found pictures of his work online and started to taunt him. "In this particular case, we had an investigation, which is now complete, and the student is welcomed to come back to talk to Dr. Sullivan about his educational options," said Irwin. Reporters checked with Cocoa police, they confirmed they did investigate the alleged threats but found nothing.
Noel's mother said she knew her son was working in adult films, adding that he took the roles to support her financially. "I think he's the most awesome person in the world," she said tearfully. "He stood up and he was the man of the house when I couldn't be."
His mother also told reporters that she believes her son's work in adult films is why school administrators suspended him. "She [Dr. Sullivan] flat out told me that my son was expelled not just suspended," his mother reportedly stated. "He was expelled due to his explicit, adult, lifestyle career."
Cocoa High Principal Stephanie Soliven called Noel on Tuesday morning — after the holiday weekend — and they worked out a plan to get him back to class, Irwin said. Noel said the principal "apologized to me and said the threats were made up (by other students)." District officials confirmed the investigation had been concluded and Noel was cleared.
The discussion between principal and student was according to district policy and unrelated to a flurry of furious Facebook comments and feedback the district received from around the globe after the story broke last week, Irwin said. She did not have the policy immediately available.
Because Noel is an adult, he did not appear to violate obscenity laws, Assistant State Attorney Wayne Holmes said. "We're basically in a society today where consenting adults can do what consenting adults want to do," Holmes said, adding that the community standard for what is obscene has changed with the increased use of technology and the Internet. "What 30, 40, or 50 years ago may have been a crime, you can now go to a local movie theater and see."
Noel shuffled his bare feet through dry pine needles carpeting the cement walk outside his home while speaking Tuesday with Florida Today. He slumped his muscular, 5-foot, 9-inch frame, hung his blond head and avoided eye contact. "I'm just ready to return to school, like a normal day," Noel said Tuesday. He was anxious though on the eve of his return to class, behaving nothing like Noel, his bold online personality as a gay pornography model. He knows that returning to Cocoa High School will be anything but ordinary given his unusual job, taken to help out his mom because his dad doesn't work. "It's just her trying to feed me and the dogs and pay bills," Noel said, rubbing his hand across his face.
A number of porn stars have faced disputes within school systems whether they were active in the adult film industry or not. In 2010, Shawn Loftis -- who directed and acted in a series of gay porn films under the name Collin O'Neal -- was dismissed from a substitute teaching gig in the Miami area after a principal discovered his films on a website. The following year, however, the Florida Education Practices Commission ruled that Loftis would not only be permitted to teach, but was also eligible to apply for a permanent position as an educator.
Meanwhile, Kevin Hogan, who allegedly starred in at least three X-rated gay films under the name "Hytch Cawke" before being hired at a Massachusetts charter school, was placed on administrative leave in 2011 when his previous gig was revealed.
Frankly, it sounds to me as if the principal was advised that she had made a bad decision and one that she would be unable to back up legally. I think she made a rash decision based on her own morality, while ignoring what school procedures were. Instead of helping Noel, she hoped the kid would go away quietly and the whole matter would be swept under the rug. When this did not happen, she ended up eating a bit of crow. I do wonder if their will be further consequences for her behavior or if the matter will be forgotten soon because she allowed Noel back in school.
I also believe that Sean Cody should be a little more hesitant to accept high school students. Sean Cody has the responsibility [at least morally] to absolutely make sure these 18 year olds fully understand the possible ramifications of doing porn. Teens are not usually mature enough to think past the next month let alone their entire future. Noel did this for his family and according to his mother with her knowledge. Though I realize that pornography and prostitution are not the same and here is a fine line between the two, isn't this at least a little akin to a parent telling their eighteen year old daughter that it is okay to go sell herself on the street in order to bring in more money for the family? I do realize that in the case of prostitution, it is illegal in most places in the United States, whereas pornography is not.
Sean Cody has been known for some unscrupulous practices in the past. They often have models sign exclusive contract that have at least a year long clause which prevents the model from working elsewhere and they refuse to allow the model out of the contract even when they decide they don't want to use the model anymore. Furthermore, Sean Cody has become an almost exclusively bareback (condom free) studio (Noel did five videos with Sean Cody, all bareback, though one was a solo video), which presents health risks to the models, no matter how much testing they go through. In all honesty, I will admit that I did once have a subscription to SeanCody.com, but as they increasingly began producing more and more bareback videos, I became uncomfortable with supporting their enterprise, and cancelled my membership. I am not judging those who enjoy bareback porn, in fact I too find it rather hot, but it's a conundrum to me because I don't like it, yet I do. Bareback porn makes me feel guilty for watching it because I know the models are being put at risk and that it sends the wrong message, and I don't like feeling guilty for watching pornography.
What do you think about the school administrators' decision? How do you feel about a porn studio recruiting a high school student, even though he was over eighteen? I have attempted to present this story as fully as I can, so I'd love to hear what you guys really think about any or all of the issues I discuss in this and the previous post.