Texas Teacher Suspended For Discussing Sexual Orientation With Kids Wins Huge Payout From School Board
An art teacher who was suspended for discussing her sexual orientation and showing her students a photo of her then-fiancée has reached a $100,000 settlement with the school district.
Stacy Bailey has vowed to donate $10,000 of her settlement with the Mansfield Independent School District to a non-profit organisation supporting LGBTQ+ students.
Bailey won Teacher of the Year twice during her time at Charlotte Anderson Elementary School in Arlington, Texas, before she was suspended in September 2017 after the school ‘received complaints from parents about Ms Bailey discussing her sexual orientation with elementary-aged students’.
The complaint was related to the teacher showing a photo of herself and her then-fiancée Julie Vazquez dressed as Finding Nemo characters, and telling her students it was her ‘future wife’, during an introductory slideshow.
After hearing of the slide from a student, a parent complained that Bailey was promoting a ‘homosexual agenda’.
Subsequently suspended from her job in September 2017, the 33-year-old then filed a discrimination lawsuit against the school district in 2018.
Speaking at a press conference this week, February 25, Bailey said the nature of the complaint was simply untrue.
If you are a school district that thinks you can bully a gay teacher out of their job, I hope you remember my name and I hope you think twice.
When a straight teacher happily announces that she and her husband are expecting a baby to her elementary class, is she saying something inappropriate to very young and impressionable students? Is she announcing her sexual orientation? Is she presenting her life in a way that promotes her political beliefs? Of course not. She’s simply sharing facts about her life.
After settling the lawsuit, the school district will be forced to withdraw the suspension from the art teacher’s permanent record, provide staff with training on LGBTQ+ issues, and vote on whether they should add ‘sexual discrimination’ on its list of anti-discrimination categories.
The school district has to pay $100,000 to Bailey and her attorney Jason Smith. Bailey and her wife will donate $10,000 of their share to a non-profit that helps LGBTQ+ student issues, while Smith will donate $10,000 of his to the Human Rights Campaign – the largest civil rights organisation in America working towards LGBTQ+ equality.
After being suspended for eight months, Bailey has now been reassigned to a local high school.
On her first day the new school, Bailey says she was handed baskets and sweets from LGBTQ+ students who welcomed her in her new role. She also used the exact same introductory slideshow – including the Finding Nemo picture – while meeting her new students.
‘I don’t think they’d ever seen a teacher out loud say they were gay. To see a grown-up who was successful and educated and not afraid? I don’t think they had ever seen that before,’ she told BuzzFeed News.
Bailey now plans to stay working as a high school teacher within the school district, and hopes to see change happen within the system.
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