Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Susan Johnson Was Suspended For Playing A Song In Class

In South Lyon, Michigan, just outside of Detroit, Susan Johnson, a  performing arts teacher, apparently caused quite an uproar with school officials and was suspended without pay for....

Beating a student during class? No.
Being drunk while teaching? No.
Having sex with a minor? No.

Susan Johnson was suspended for playing a song about being gay during class.

See, it was just another day in her eighth grade performing arts class when a student asked if he could play a song. Ms. Johnson asked him questions about the song, like if it was violent or had any profanity in the lyrics, and when the student said 'No,' she said, "[T]his sounds like a great song to go ahead and use for the class."

The song played was "Same Love", by Ben Maclemore and Ryan Lewis, written in support of same sex marriage. The song deals with the dangers of hate and stereotypes by showing the struggle of a homosexual man from birth to death and Susan Johnson thought it something her students could learn from:
"This is one of the things in my school that we're trying to practice and we're trying to instill in our students is tolerance to diversity."
But, sadly, another student in the classroom that day isn't keen on tolerance and diversity and complained about the song choice. Before that school day was over, Susan Johnson had been told by both  the principal and assistant superintendent told her she was suspended for three days, two of which she would not receive her pay.
"I don't think that it was really even thought through. I was paralyzed.  I really didn't understand why I was being suspended."
Assistant Superintendent Melissa Baker couldn't bother to respond except to say: "No one is going to have a comment for you.  We don't go on camera here in South Lyon."

But Baker gave Johnson some paperwork to explain why; it seems the district claims the song had controversial content--homosexuality, religion, political views and a sexual slur--and says Susan Johnson should have asked permission to play the song.
"I really love my kids and I never want to hurt them, but I also know that there's a lot of bullying and there's a lot of gay bashing and racial issues going on in our country and I want the kids to feel comfortable in my class no matter who they are."--Susan Johnson.
It's too bad the principal and school officials didn't feel the same way. They'll teach the Three R's bot not Tolerance.



SEAN said...

This is more than just a song. It has a strong point of view and harsh words for the ignorant and prejudiced. However, I've heard a few songs with equally strong pov's on the radio so...

It's a short video and I think rather then ask about the song the teacher should have viewed it first. Then could have been more prepared. 8th graders @ 12/13, are old enough for this song and in a performing arts class no less.

the dogs' mother said...

It sounded like she followed current school protocol by asking if the song had violent content or objectionable language.
Since this blew up the district can change their protocol but not punish the teacher before the fact.
I feel badly for the teacher and the student and other students who are now even more frightened.

Kyle Leach said...

I feel really bad for Susan. This is one of those cases, where at a school with a supportive GLBTQ policy, this never would never have happened. I'm not sure why more people at the school haven't come to her defense in the media. That's been really disappointing.

mrs.missalaineus said...

i applied to work in south lyon when first graduated....somehow even though i hate where i am now, i am glad i am not there because if i was her middle school coworker, i would not be able to let this go....

it will be interesting to see if the ACLU steps in. word here is that she got in trouble because of the 'kissing' part of the video and would of been in the same trouble if a hetero couple were kissing in the video.


Unknown said...

The "song" is mendacious propaganda, laced with profanity. The proper role of a teacher is to teach logical reasoning, not to foist her political views upon impressionable young minds.