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In broadest terms, the phrase Passing the Trash describes dealing with corrupt individuals by giving them transfers, new job titles or even promotions. However, a quick search with Google suggests that the phrase is closely tied to teachers who sexually abuse children, which begs the question:

Is that what "passing the trash" originally referred to, or is this just another example of propagandists dumping on teachers?

Can anyone tell me about the origin of this phrase?

  • Sounds like a new variation on the Dance of the Lemons – candied_orange Feb 7 '16 at 6:51
  • Wow, I never heard "dance of the lemons" before, but a quick search suggests that it, too, is associated with bad teachers. When I was a teacher, I was infuriated by the insults the media constantly piled on teachers while ignoring the often extraordinary crimes committed by school officials and the corporations they worked for. This is getting real interesting... – David Blomstrom Feb 7 '16 at 6:55
  • A way to research this phrase in google is to set a date range. When I search between 2000-2010 the number one hit is about the Catholic church sex scandal. Also a card game (Anaconda) and something Forbs calls reinsurance. – candied_orange Feb 7 '16 at 7:25
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According the "Academic and Workplace Sexual Harassment " the expression refers to the practice of moving the trash (abusive teachers) from school to school:

  • "Passing the trash" is a common term used to indicate that the harassing/ abusive teacher (trash) gets passed to another district to teach following sexual abuse allegations. These abusers are often referred to as "mobile molesters."

The book "Sexual violence: opposing viewpoints" says that the expression was coined by educators:

  • Such cases are so common that educators have coined the term "passing the trash". A 1995 study of 225 cases in which pupils were sexually abused by teachers or other staff members found that in only 1% of the cases did the school- district ...
  • Ngram shows usage of "passing the trash" referring to sexual abuse from the 80s but the expression became widespread from the late 90s.

It appears that the expression was coined within educational contexts as an 'euphemistic' way to refer to such a serious problem.

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