Administrators at the Mansfield Independent School District are now saying that an elementary school art teacher, who was suspended after she sought LGBT protections for students and employees, was actually suspended because a parent had complained the teacher mentioned her wife to students.
Stacy Bailey has been an art teacher at Charlotte Anderson Elementary School in Arlington, Texas, for the past 10 years and is a former teacher of the year. Last September, she was put on administrative leave with pay after she sought to open a discussion about adding LGBT protections to the school district’s nondiscrimination policy.
However, in a series of text messages obtained by the Ft. Worth Star Telegram, the school’s principal, Sheria Pettey, reveals a parent complained that Bailey had mentioned her sexual orientation and her spouse to students. That complaint led to Bailey’s suspension.
“The District’s concern is that Ms. Bailey insists that it is her right and that it is age appropriate for her to have ongoing discussion with elementary-aged students about her own sexual orientation, the sexual orientation of artists, and their relationships with other gay artists,” the district said in a statement, adding that Bailey “refused to follow administration’s directions regarding age-appropriate conversations with students.”
In response to the school district’s statement, Bailey’s attorney told the Star-Telegram, “On one occasion, she discussed with students her spouse, who happens to be a woman, just as any other teacher would do. It’s sad that Mansfield ISD issued a statement with multiple falsehoods to try and deflect the increasing parent pressure to bring back Miss Bailey.”
Bailey has been a popular teacher at Anderson Elementary. On February 28, a group of about 40 parents and students attended a school board meeting to speak out in support of the teacher.
“She brings diversity to this classroom that is lacking in so many schools and in so many districts today. She accepts my child for who she is and she loves her for it. I’m perplexed how this person who everyone seems to adore can be kept from our children,” one mother told the board.
Bailey’s supporters have started a petition, asking the school district to include LGBT protections in its nondiscrimination policy. As of March 30, the petition had almost 3000 signatures.
District officials insist that even though the district’s nondiscrimination policy does not specifically mention LGBT categories, “Mansfield ISD is committed to providing a safe working environment for all employees” and “does not condone harassment or discrimination of any kind toward anyone.”