A teacher in Texas has won a $100,000 settlement after she was suspended – just for showing students a photo of her future wife.
And she and her lawyer are celebrating the payout by giving thousands of dollars to LGBT+ good causes.
Stacy Bailey, from Mansfield Independent School District in a suburb of Dallas-Fort Worth, secured the settlement on Monday.
Moreover, the district will also train staff about LGBT+ issues. The mandatory training will cover human resources personnel and counsellors, staff and parents.
And the board will vote on adding sexual orientation to its anti-discrimination policy.
Finally, it will wipe the suspension from Bailey’s record.
A ‘first step’ in making things better for gay teachers and students
The trouble started when art teacher Bailey showed slides of her then-fiancée, now wife, Julie Vasquez, to her students.
She also showed them pictures of her friends, relatives and dogs. It was all part of a ‘getting to know your teacher’ presentation at Charlotte Anderson Elementary School in August 2017.
But a parent, Paul Holding, complained. He emailed the superintendent of schools and other district officials with the subject line ‘Homosexual agenda pushed on Charlotte Anderson students’.
As a result, the school board put her on paid administrative leave for eight months in 2017 and 2018.
Bailey, who had twice been the district’s ‘Teacher of the Year’, returned to the classroom in 2018. But officials assigned her to a different school – Lake Ridge High School where she still teaches.
And in May 2018, she sued the school district in federal court for sexual orientation discrimination. Last October, a judge ruled the district had violated her constitutional rights.
The school district still denies wrongdoing. And it says the photos were not the reason it suspended Bailey. But it says it has made the settlement to avoid ongoing litigation.
Bailey, meanwhile, issued a statement saying:
‘The agreements the district and I made in this settlement are a positive first step in making things better for gay employees, gay students and gay families in Mansfield.’
And she is taking the second step with her attorney Jason Smith.
Bailey and Vasquez say they will donate $10,000 to a non-profit helping LGBT+ students. And Smith will also donate $10,000 to the Human Rights Campaign.