A teacher in Texas has reached a $100,000 settlement with her school district after being suspended for showing students a photo of her then-fiancé.
Stacy Bailey, 35, was suspended from Charlotte Anderson Elementary School in Arlington, Texas in September 2017. The district had reportedly “received complaints from parents about Ms. Bailey discussing her sexual orientation with elementary-aged students,” per a press release from the school district. One parent told the school district that Bailey was promoting a “homosexual agenda.”
But all Bailey had done was share a slideshow of her and her partner, Julie Vazquez, in “Finding Nemo” costumes, explaining that this was her “future wife.” Bailey and Vazquez are now married.
Bailey, who’d previously won two Teacher of the Year awards at the school, filed a discrimination lawsuit against the Mansfield Independent School District. The case has received heavy media attention for months.
“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?” Bailey said at a press conference, via BuzzFeed News. “Of course not. She’s simply sharing facts about her life.”
Bailey successfully reached a $100,000 settlement with the district, her attorney announced on Tuesday. She plans to donate $10,000 to a charity helping LGBTQ+ students in schools. The district will also erase the suspension from her record, provide staff with mandatory training on LGBTQ+ issues, and consider whether to add “sexual discrimination” to its anti-discrimination policy.
Though the case has been difficult on Bailey, it has also served as an inspiring example to LGBTQ+ students and community members in Mansfield. “I don’t think they’d ever seen a teacher out loud say they were gay,” she told BuzzFeed News. “I’ve seen my classroom turn into a safe space for all kinds of kids who feel marginalized.”
She also hopes to have made an impact on other gay teachers everywhere. “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,” Bailey said at the press conference.
— Eva-Marie Ayala (@EvaMarieAyala) February 25, 2020