An elementary school teacher has been suspended for discussing a topic related to her sexual orientation in class.
Stacy Bailey, 31, an art teacher at Charlotte Anderson Elementary School in Arlington, Texas, who was previously named “Teacher of the Year 2016,” was suspended with pay after the district received a complaint from a parent that she was discussing an LGBT topic in class.
On Wednesday, The Dallas Morning News published a statement from the Mansfield Independent School District, which read that Bailey “insists that it is her right and that it is age appropriate for her to have ongoing discussions with elementary-age students about her own sexual orientation, the sexual orientation of artists, and their relationships with other gay artists.”
The newspaper added, “Parents have the right to control the conversation with their children, especially as it relates to religion, politics, sex/sexual orientation, etc.,” and that “Ms. Bailey refused to follow administration’s directions regarding age-appropriate conversation with students.”
Yahoo Lifestyle could not reach a representative at Mansfield for comment and did not hear back from Bailey or her lawyer Giana Ortiz for comment.
However, on Tuesday, Ortiz wrote in an email to the Dallas Morning News that the administration’s depiction of events isn’t accurate. “For Stacy, this entire ordeal began when she spoke with the students about her family which, for Stacy, included her wife,” Ortiz said. “The district appears to speak for Stacy when it states that she ‘insists it is her right and that it is age appropriate’ to discuss matters including ongoing discussions about her own sexuality. This is absolutely false. Further, she never received directives to change her behavior — and never refused to follow any directive.”
According to a March 7story published by the Dallas Morning News in August, Bailey emailed the district to ask that “sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression” be included in the school’s antidiscrimination policy.
“I think it is important that MISD starts movement towards progress now,” Bailey’s email read, according to the news outlet. “We have many LGBTQ teachers, students, and families in this district. We deserve the right to feel protected by our district.”
A few weeks later, Bailey received notice that she was suspended “until an investigation is completed.” She was also told to ”make no contact with students, parents or other staff members.” (The school denied that Bailey’s request was related to her suspension).
On Wednesday, Bailey’s lawyer said the school’s public statement was a violation of the law.” [I’m] shocked by the school district’s decision to speak openly about a personnel matter — Stacy’s administrative leave — in spite of its legal obligations of confidentiality,” Ortiz told the Dallas Morning News. “The district’s actions violate Stacy’s rights under the U.S. Constitution.”
On Tuesday night, the paper reported that three dozen people, including Bailey’s wife, father, and sister appeared at a school board meeting requesting answers regarding Bailey’s suspension. A 9-year-old student also addressed the board, calling Bailey a “role model.”
The Dallas Morning News also published text messages it claims are from Charlotte Anderson principal Sheira Petty who messaged a staffer named Donna about the situation. In response to whether Bailey had done something similar in the past, Petty reportedly replied, “Not to his [sic] extent. She has said she had a girlfriend and she showed a slide show of her friends that included girlfriend. … In talking with HR, it was always determined I was NOT to tell her she can’t say certain things. To my knowledge, she has never gone to this extent.”
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle: