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Texas art teacher suspended after making plea for LGBTI inclusion

Texas art teacher suspended after making plea for LGBTI inclusion

Stacy Baily

A popular art teacher in Texas was suspended in September after she asked school officials to consider adding LGBTI-inclusive language to the school district’s anti-discrimination policy.  

The Dallas Morning News reported that Stacy Bailey, an art teacher at an elementary school in Mansfield, a suburb of Dallas, emailed several school board members and the district’s assisstant superintendent on 25 August 2017 asking ‘to begin a conversation’ about adding language regarding ‘sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.’

‘I think it is important that [Mansfield Independent School District] starts movement towards progress now,’ Bailey’s email read. ‘We have many LGBTQ teachers, students, and families in this district. We deserve the right to feel protected by our district.’ 

She cited San Antonio, Dallas and Austin as Texas school districts that have added LGBTQ language to their policies. 

In 2016, Bailey was named 2016 Teacher of the Year at Charlotte Anderson Elementary School. However, two weeks after sending that email, she was placed on paid administrative leave.

The 8 September letter informing her of the suspension said she would be on leave ‘until an investigation is completed,’ but did not offer any reason for the disciplinary action. Six months later, she is still on suspension.

Bailey, who has taught at the school for nine years, was instructed not to contact students, parents or other school staff while on leave and not to discuss the leave with anyone.

Bailey’s attorney, Giana Ortiz, was unable to discuss the particulars of the case, but did provide the Dallas Morning News with a statement about her client’s character.

‘I can say, however, that [Bailey’s] record in MISD has been exemplary,’ Ortiz said via email to the newspaper. ‘She has touched many lives through her passion for teaching and for her students. I believe it is a great disservice to the children of Charlotte Anderson Elementary that they’ve been without their art teacher for the majority of this year.’

Rumors about Bailey’s absence spread through the community quickly; parents and former students soon began protesting the suspension. About 40 students and parents showed up at the 28 February meeting of the Mansfield school board, carrying signs and speaking on her behalf.

‘I don’t know what’s going on, but I do know what’s being missed at Charlotte Anderson,’ parent Lester Williams told the school board. ‘I hope this can come to a resolution. I hope that Ms. Bailey can get back to doing what her God-given gift was, and that is teaching kids and instilling and sharing her love and passion for art.’  

Gay Star News has contacted the Mansfield Independent School District requesting a comment, but has not heard back.