A lesbian teacher who was suspended and accused of “promoting the homosexual agenda” after showing her students a photo of her partner has been awarded a $100,000 settlement.
Stacy Bailey was, at the time, an art teacher at Charlotte Anderson Elementary School in Mansfield, Texas. She said she shared photos of her friends, family and partner with children at the beginning of term in August 2017.
Shortly afterwards, a parent complained that Bailey was “promoting the homosexual agenda” by showing students a picture of her partner, and she was placed on administrative leave with pay by the Mansfield Independent School District (ISD).
Texas has no state law specifically protecting people from discrimination based on sexual orientation, so Bailey took her case to federal court. After a two-year legal battle, Judge Sam Lindsay of the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas ruled that her suspension was unconstitutional.
According to the Texas Tribune, the school district maintains that it did nothing wrong, but said in a statement on Monday, February 24, that it would award Bailey and her attorney a $100,000 settlement “to avoid the time, expense, stress and other impacts of continuing litigation”.
The Mansfield ISD has also agreed to withdraw the “administrative leave” designation from Bailey’s record, and to provide her with a letter of recommendation for future employment.
At the time of her suspension, Bailey had also been asking school officials to change the wording of the their anti-discrimination policy to include sexual orientation and protect LGBT+ kids.
The ISD has agreed to take a vote on the issue, and will “provide mandatory training to Human Resource and Counseling staff regarding LGBTQ issues in schools, and offer optional training to be attended by administrators, educators, staff, or parents who may wish to attend such training”.
According to the Texas Tribune, Bailey said at a press conference on Tuesday, February 25: “What happened to me is most gay teachers’ worst nightmare.
“Why aren’t straight teachers afraid to talk about their families? Why do they feel comfortable to have a picture of their family on their desk without questioning their safety?”
She added: “If you are a school district who thinks you can bully and shame a gay teacher out of their job, I hope you remember my name and I hope you think twice.”
The teacher and her wife have said they will donate $10,000 o “a non-profit addressing LGBTQ student issues”, and her attorney Jason Smith will donate $10,000 to the Human Rights Campaign.