I remember when my father was a teacher, and how, at the start of each new school year, he’d introduce himself to his class with a little history lesson about his life. I always thought it was a cool way for the students to get to know their new teachers.
Not so, in Texas, where, at Charlotte Anderson Elementary School in Arlington, Stacy Bailey, an art teacher, introduced herself to her new fourth grade students with a slide show of her life. The class saw old family pictures, her friends, her childhood, and then one photo, that one up there, of Julie Vazquez, her partner of seven years and, as Bailey explained, her future wife.
Not a big deal, right? Kinda cute, right? I mean, they were dressed in fish costumes from the film “Finding Nemo.” And yet that one photo, out of many, set off a sequence of reactions from parents and school district officials who say Stacy Bailey showed inappropriate images to children; Baily was put on leave and told she would be transferred.
Bailey has filed suit against the school district, with a very simple defense:
“Plaintiff is lesbian/gay and was born that way.”
The Mansfield Independent School District, a defendant in the lawsuit along with two district officials, see it like this:
“There has never been an issue with her open sexual orientation until this year. That’s when her actions in the classroom changed, which prompted her students to voice concerns to their parents.”
The district claims Bailey did not follow district guidelines that require “controversial subjects be taught in ‘an impartial and objective manner.’ Teachers shall not use the classroom to transmit personal belief regarding political or sectarian issues.”
It was a photo of two women dressed as fish. Controversial? It wasn’t a lesson. It wasn’t political. If it was a woman and her male fiancé dressed as fish would this even be an issue? No. So, it’s clearly because Stacy Bailey is gay.
Bailey has been a teacher at Charlotte Anderson Elementary School for eight years and has been voted teacher of the year twice but showing a picture of herself with her fiancée has ended that.
This week Stacy Bailey, along with her new wife, Julie Vazquez, held a news conference to announce the legal action. She is seeking a jury trial, reinstatement at the school and possible damages.
Only Vazquez spoke during the news conference because, since Bailey was placed on paid administrative leave in September, she has been instructed by the district not to speak about the case or attend events on school grounds. She’s been silenced and banned for being gay.
The lawsuit says that shortly after Bailey gave the slide show, the principal informed her that a parent had complained that Bailey was, ahem, promoting a “homosexual agenda” in class. And that parent called the photo, that photo up there, “sexually inappropriate”.
Again, she showed a picture of her and her partner dressed as fish, and were it not for the two of them being women, this would amount to nothing.
That same parent had already complained once about Bailey, an art teacher, remember, after she gave the class a lesson about the artist Jasper Johns, and told her class that the previous year she’d talked about Johns’ partner, the artist Robert Rauschenberg.
I cannot help but be disgusted by this whole thing. An innocuous little picture—Bailey, according to her lawyer, used “age-appropriate terms” and never said the words gay or lesbian … she said, egads, call the paramedics, “this is my future wife.”
And if that’s what brought about the transfer and the removal of Bailey from class, and the suspension, it is clearly a case of being fired for being gay. And if those asshats in Texas don’t want their gay and lesbian teachers talking about their lives to their classes, then let’s fire every straight teacher who shows a picture of a souse of partner.
It’s called equality, Texas; look into it.