For as long as I can remember, my teachers have always talked to their classes about their wives and husbands and it was seen as completely normal because they were all in straight relationships. Stacy Bailey, an elementary school art teacher, was suspended with pay since September for sharing the same information with her class just because she happened to be gay.
The Mansfield Independent School District explained that they suspended Bailey because she
“insists that it is her right and 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."
They also claimed that parents complained to them about her trying to have discussions with her students about sexual orientations and that Bailey continued to have those conversations with them despite being told to stop.
However, Bailey’s attorney denied the school district’s statements and explained that “she never received directives to change her behavior — and never refused to follow any directive." They also said that the only comments that Bailey made in relation to sexuality were that she had a wife.
Personally, I believe that even if Bailey had tried to talk to her students about sexual orientations, it would not have merited her suspension. Many people think that exposing children to sexualities beyond heterosexual is harmful because it will influence their children into being gay or that the concept of being gay is too confusing to children to understand, and I completely disagree. Children should not be restricted to the heteronormative ideas that the majority of us grew up with. Informing children that it is okay to love someone of any gender is a positive thing because it not only teaches children to be accepting of people that are not straight but also helps normalize the thoughts and feelings of a gay child.
Bailey’s suspension occurred after she asked the school district to add protections for LGBTQ people in its anti-discrimination rules, but the school district stated that her attempt to include those protections did not influence their decision to suspend her. They came to the decision to suspend her because of “parents having certain rights pertaining to the topics to which their children are exposed.” I understand that parents have that right, but I do not think that the solution to the parent complaint was to suspend Bailey because multiple parents and students came to her defense and said that she is a wonderful teacher.
In Texas, the state where Bailey teaches, there are no laws that protect employees from discrimination based on their sexuality or gender, and that is unacceptable. It is time for the world to finally understand that straight people are not the only people that exist and that there is nothing wrong with being gay. Love is one of the most beautiful parts of the human experience and if it really bothers you that much to have your child be shown love between two people of the same gender, then you are the problem, not them.