A woman who has twice been awarded Teacher of the Year honors at her Texas school is now suing the school after she said administrators suspended her for showing students a photo of her “future wife.” Stacy Bailey, an art teacher with the Mansfield Independent School District since 2008, said she was suspended by the school and eventually put in administrative leave after she showed some of her students a photo of Julie Vasquez, who was her girlfriend at the time and his now her wife.
Bailey has filed a federal discrimination suit against he school district and two of its administrators over the fallout stemming from an incident at Charlotte Anderson Elementary in Arlington, Texas, last August. During a “get to know your teacher” exercise, Bailey showed her class the picture of Vasquez and told them the woman was her “future wife.” But by the end of the week, a parent of one of her students had complained to school officials and accused Bailey of promoting a “homosexual agenda” in class, her lawsuit says.
Bailey was promptly put on administrative leave and said school officials asked for her resignation, but she refused. She eventually was reassigned to a nearby high school.
— Ms. Clayton (@msclayton_cae) May 8, 2017
“Stacy is filing this lawsuit and taking this action in hopes of pushing Mansfield [Independent School District] out of the shadows of discrimination and into the sunshine of equal rights,” Jason Smith, her attorney, said. Bailey and Vasquez appeared at a press conference this week with Smith to discuss the lawsuit, but Bailey declined to actually speak with reporters. Vazquez made a statement, however, saying that she and Bailey have “been hurt deeply” by the suspension. She added, “It is shocking and disappointing that Mansfield district officials treated my wife differently when she spoke about her family, just as every teacher does. She was singled out, because her spouse happens to be a woman.”
Mansfield art teacher Stacy Bailey and her wife Julie Vasquez appear at news conference discussing the discrimination lawsuit against district. @nbcdfw https://t.co/xExBUKkie3 pic.twitter.com/VdFOZIuYvz
— ScottGordonNBC5 (@ScottGordonNBC5) May 8, 2018
But that’s not how the school district sees it.
District officials have emphatically denied any wrongdoing, insisting in a statement that the district has been “an inclusive, supportive environment for LGBT staff for decades.” District officials say Bailey is to blame for violating district policy “requiring that controversial subjects be taught in an impartial and objective manner.” The policy also bars teachers from using their position “to transmit personal beliefs regarding political or sectarian issues.” The school says students were concerned by Bailey’s remarks in class and voiced those concerns to their parents, who then took up the issue with school officials.
The school district defended the decision to suspend her, saying that she openly defied the policy by maintaining “that it is age appropriate for her to have ongoing discussions with elementary-aged students about her own sexual orientation, the sexual orientation of artists, and their relationships with other gay artists.”
Bailey filed the lawsuit last Friday and, according to The Hill, among unspecified damages, is seeking to be reassigned to the elementary school and for officials to apologize for discriminating against her on the basis of sexual orientation.
For more from the press conference, watch the video below.
Read the full story at NBC News.