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34 Older People Shared How Racist, Sexist, And Abusive Some Teachers Used To Be, And I'm Genuinely Upset

Anyone who was lucky enough to have supportive teachers growing up knows what a positive long-term impact they have on your life. But the opposite is true of bad teachers — the derisive and nasty offhand comments they make can stay with you well into adulthood.

Teacher with clipboard in front of a chalkboard labeled "Vertebrate Systems" in a classroom scene
Comedy Central

So I asked the BuzzFeed Community: "Do you remember a terrible thing your teacher said to you or a classmate that STILL haunts you to this day?" The response from older generations alone was absolutely overwhelming — and horrifying. Here are some of their replies.

Content warning: mentions of harassment, racism, sexism, sexual harassment, body shaming, religious discrimination, and physical/verbal abuse

1."On my second day of school ever, the boy sitting in front of me stuck his tongue out at the teacher, and she smacked him hard across his face! I’m in my late 60s now, but I remember it like yesterday."

magicalwalrus147

2."When I was a nine-year-old girl in fourth grade, I had to read something out loud at my desk. After I finished, my male teacher said 'your voice is so sexy' to the whole class. I put my head on my desk and started crying. I can’t remember what the rest of the class did, as I was too mortified to notice. That was 40 years ago, and I can still remember it clear as day. Pretty sure nobody would get away with that today."

Person expressing shock with wide eyes and open mouth

—Anonymous

Westend61 / Getty Images/Westend61

3."In 1972, when I was 10 years old, my teacher told me, 'We are going to be pairing up to do book reports. You two can pair up because you’re the only Black kids in class.'"

—Anonymous

4."When I was in kindergarten in the '80s, students would get a pint of milk and a graham cracker for a snack. I despise milk and didn’t want to drink it. The teacher refused to start class until I finished my milk. I remember pleading not to drink it, but I was ultimately forced to choke down warm milk against my will. That traumatic event has been with me for over 40 years and still affects me today."

—Anonymous

5."This was a high school teacher I had in the early '70s. He got all wound up and told us the only reason rape is so wrong is because a woman who gets raped will instantly become addicted to sex and crave it every chance she gets."

"I thought that didn't sound right, but I also figured that he was the adult so maybe he knew more about such things. I'd love to go back to that classroom knowing what I know now and really rip him a new one."

—Anonymous

6."In 1970, as part of summer orientation at college, we were herded into a freezing cold auditorium and given some sort of test. I was so miserably cold that I rushed to finish and leave. In the fall, I was called into the guidance office and told the results of what I came to find out was a group IQ test. I scored a little better than average. The counselor said I might find college challenging, but I was a pretty girl who wouldn't have trouble finding a husband, so I didn't really need a college education. A few months later, I wanted to take my Dean's List letter and shove it up his nose. I'm still furious about the condescending sexism."

—Anonymous

7."In the early '80s, I submitted a permission slip for an optional skiing field trip, and the teacher rejected it. In front of the predominantly white class, she said, 'Black people can’t ski because they have weak ankles.' She added that I was lying about my plan to go on the trip so I could get out of an upcoming test. She threatened to give me an F on the test, so I reported her to the principal."

—Anonymous

8."Back in 1968, my 6th grade teacher had very strong opinions on a lot of things and wasn't afraid to share them. He told us that equal pay for women was a terrible thing and that men worked to support a family, so of course he should make more than a woman in the same position. He said women teachers were using their income to get their hair done, go on vacations, and luxuries."

A historical photo of a classroom with students reading books and a teacher supervising, with a phonograph on the desk

"When you're 11 years old and a teacher that you really like tells you something like that, you accept it and don't see it for the twisted patriarchal BS it really is."

—Anonymous

Fpg / Getty Images

9."In NYC, Catholic school students take an exam for admission to Catholic high school. I submitted my choices to Sister Fortunata, who looked at me and said 'some parents want their children to get into impossible schools.' Positive reinforcement was not part of Catholic education in the '60s."

"I got into six schools — the most in the history of my grammar school."

sweetshark22

10."I went to a small private Christian school in the '70s. Our seventh grade teacher visited our now-eighth grade class at the beginning of the school year and chatted to each of the 25 students — he said things like 'hey, you're taller this year!' As a 14-year-old, I was shy and self-conscious about my looks. I had plucked my unfashionably bushy eyebrows to pencil thinness over the summer and thought I looked quite chic. When it was my turn, he said in front of the whole class, 'What did you do to your eyebrows?!? You look HIDEOUS!' I wanted to die right then and there. It was so unnecessarily cruel."

—Anonymous

11."In 1984, one of my high school teachers told me to 'go get married and pregnant because that’s all you're good for.'"

—Anonymous

12."My high school gym teacher shouted to the whole class that she’d seen me in a bathing suit (I worked as a sailing instructor at a nearby lake over the summer), and I really need to do more of the leg kick-backs to help lift my butt. I still vividly remember this 30 years later."

empty basketball court

—Anonymous

Pidjoe / Getty Images

13."I’m a successful, 55-year-old businesswoman with a finance degree. However, when I was a 15-year-old girl, math was not my strong suit. In 9th grade algebra class, we had taken a surprise test. As my teacher handed back the graded tests, he stated, 'Only a moron would flunk this test.' He then handed me my test with a big, red F."

—Anonymous

14."In seventh grade, we were given the assignment of writing a family history. This was long before DNA tracing was around. We were supposed to show ancestry and family stories. I tried to tell the teacher that I didn't know any family other than my mother (she'd been thrown out of the house as a pregnant, unmarried teenager), and she never gave me any information about other family members. The teacher blew me off. I turned in my paper with what little I knew and wrote about what it was like to grow up with only my mother. The teacher gave me an F and said in front of the class that it wasn't his fault that I had 'a tramp for a mother.' I was 12 years old. To this day, that comment still hurts."

—Anonymous

15."This was in the late '60s, when women were supposed to know our 'place.' Being outspoken, I was never good at that. So my speech teacher told my soon-to-be husband not to marry me."

—Anonymous

16."I wasn’t a kid at the time, but l was in musical theatre school. My dance teacher never had anything nice to say about me (it was a time where the body shaming was still rampant) and even went as far as to write in a report card, 'Fights every day with a body that wasn’t made for dancing.'"

"l’ve been on stage for 15 years now and teach in a musical theatre school in France, and l’m never repeating this toxic pattern with my students. l often tell them, 'If your teachers don’t believe in you, prove your teachers wrong!'"

mickeydem

17."I was in second grade in the '80s. My teacher said I should give up any artistic and creative pursuits because I wasn’t good at them. She also pulled me out of other classes to scratch her back. I'd been taught to do whatever authority figures asked of me, so I didn’t question it."

"Anyway, I'm a published author now."

—Anonymous

18."My initials are SFB. Many years ago, I had a high school teacher take me aside one day to advise that he and his group of friends referred to people they don’t like as 'SFB,' which stood for 'Stupid F*cking Bastard.' He found it hilarious that those were my initials — as if a high school sophomore isn’t insecure enough already."

Man in vest and tie, smiling, with tousled hair, standing in a garden

—Anonymous

Rosmarie Wirz / Getty Images

19."I was attending a parochial school in the south in the '80s. My English teacher gave a speech at the end of the year and said, 'There is a student who is excellent and performed perfectly, but their grade will be downgraded from an A to a B because they are not a Christian.' Having immigrated from South Africa a few years prior, I was the only foreign student in that class, and my classmates all knew she was talking about me. It was humiliating and infuriating, and I lost all respect for a teacher I once admired so much."

—Anonymous

20."In middle school, our French teacher told the set of female twins in our class that one was the pretty one, and the other one would have to try harder in life. He regularly made inappropriate comments about the 'pretty one.' We were 13! He also told a very kind, shy, nerdy boy that he would be alone forever and no one would ever love him. The principal threatened to suspend me when I tried to report my teacher. Sadly he retired well before #MeToo, when he would have been fired in disgrace."

—Anonymous

21."When I was in grade school many years ago, I was the only left handed student in my class. My teacher said that being left handed was the work of Satan, and I should try being right handed."

—Anonymous

"In 1958, my teacher announced to my first grade class that I was 'handicapped' because I was left handed!"

—Anonymous

22."I was in third grade in 1966. My teacher said I wasn’t trying hard enough to pronounce big words, and then she slapped me across the face. She did the same thing to other students in the class."

—Anonymous

23."I was in fifth grade when The Beatles made their debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. I fell in love and even got a Beatles notebook that I placed on my desk the night of an open house so everyone would see it. When I came in the next morning, my notebook was gone. I was shaken up, and the teacher said, 'I took the notebook off your desk and hid it. Nobody’s mind needs to be poisoned by them.' I still think about what an ass she was."

The Beatles performing onstage with guitars and a drum set

24."I was in fourth grade in a Catholic school, and my worst subject was math. Every single day, my horrible teacher called me up to the board in front of the class to solve problems. I was humiliated. I ended up in the hospital for stomach issues out of stress. This teacher was so unfeeling that when my brother was going into fourth grade at that school, my parents pulled him out for the year and enrolled him in public school. Sixty years later, I don’t remember most of my teachers, but I will never forget her."

—Anonymous

25."In junior high in the ‘70s, my science teacher made horrible jokes about how skinny I was, like 'if you stick your, tongue out you could be a zipper.' He also made remarks about how flat-chested I was."

—Anonymous

26."In elementary school, I had a music teacher who had each person had to go to the front and sing alone. After I went, she sneered and said, 'We'll throw a party the day you match pitch!' What a hurtful thing to say to a 10-year-old in front of the class! 50 years later, I still get that feeling of wanting to sink through the floor. And I never sing in front of others."

bethbohstedt

"In 1960, my second grade class was working on a song to sing at the school’s Christmas pageant. I loved to sing, but my teacher didn’t think I could carry a tune and told me to only mouth the words while everyone else sang. To this day, I cannot sing publicly."

—Anonymous

27."In seventh grade, a substitute teacher went around the room and critiqued girls' outfits. She told me I was too fat to wear plaid. It still makes me cringe 60 years later."

—Anonymous

—Anonymous

Juanmonino / Getty Images/iStockphoto

28."Way back in the 1960s, I was in the 7th grade. My history teacher used the n-word a lot while telling us that all the slaves brought to America should be shipped back. I told my dad, and he talked to the principal about it, even though I begged him not to tell that I was the one who reported it. Of course, she still found out it was me and bullied me in front of the class from then on. I will never forget that!"

—Anonymous

29."I'm still salty about my first grade teacher telling me I couldn't read ahead in our lesson. I'm also mad at the school librarian who made me check out different books than the ones I wanted to read because they were 'too old' for me. It's been over 50 years, and I still remember how frustrated I was."

—Anonymous

30."In 1973, my fourth grade teacher in Minnesota called me a 'dirty little Mexican.' Once my family moved back to California, I never experienced racism like that again."

—Anonymous

31."I went to a predominantly white elementary school in the early '80s and was one of a small handful of African American students. My teachers were mostly decent people, with one major exception. My third grade teacher gave non-white kids stricter rules and punishments, but her comments about my natural hair still stay with me to this day. If I wore my hair loose, she would say things like, 'your hair is too big, bushy, and messy,' 'you can’t come in here like that — put that mop up,' and 'your hair is a distraction.' Meanwhile, she cooed over the white children's hair."

—Anonymous

32."Around 30 years ago, my sister was in 8th grade. She assumed she’d get into honors math for high school because she had excellent grades, but her eighth grade math teacher didn’t recommend her. When she asked him to reconsider, he told her, 'Hair dressers and fashion designers don’t need to know calculus.'"

Young person stands in front of a blackboard filled with advanced mathematical equations, looking thoughtful

33."I'm 60 and have a negative experience that I'll never forget. I was in Catholic school when my dog died, and I told my teacher (a nun) that 'at least my dog went to heaven.' She told me that I was wrong because animals don't have souls, so they can't go to heaven."

—Anonymous

34."In the 1980s, I had a classmate (I'll call him Dan) who had weight issues. We were learning how submarines worked in science class. T teacher said, 'I have a question for the class but who should I ask? I know, I’ll ask someone who LOOKS like a submarine — Dan?' The poor kid wanted to die, and we felt so bad for him."

"Later that week, my buddy grabbed some sugar packets from the cafeteria, and we poured about 20 packets into that teacher's gas tank. His truck was missing from the staff parking lot for a month. To this day, I hope it cost that jerk thousands to repair."

—Anonymous

Do you remember a terrible thing your teacher said to you or a classmate that STILL haunts you to this day? Share your story in the comments!