A popular Texas teacher was placed on paid administrative leave after requesting that officials modify her school district's anti-discrimination policy, Dallas Morning News reports.
Stacy Bailey, an art teacher and former "teacher of the year" at Charlotte Anderson Elementary School, emailed Mansfield Independent School District assistant superintendent David Wright and several school board members last August to "begin a conversation" about changing the wording of the non-discrimination policy to include protections for LGBT people.
"Currently it only includes the language 'race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age and disability,'" Bailey wrote, noting that other Texas districts have added "sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression" to their non-discriminatory language.
"I think it is important that MISD starts movement towards progress now," the lesbian educator continued. "We have many LGBTQ teachers, students, and families in this district. We deserve the right to feel protected by our district."
"As we all know, MISD broke federal law and held out on integration for 11 years after Brown Vs. The Board of Education. As a teacher who loves where teach and my community, I would like for us to be on the correct side of history this time."
Bailey later reached out to faculty at another MISD school, Ben Barber Innovation Academy, requesting information about its gay/straight alliance group. "I'm doing some research on how/if MISD high school campuses supply support to their LGBTQ students," she explained. She also shared her plans to meet with district officials to discuss adding LGBT-inclusive language to MISD's non-discrimination policy.
The next day, September 8, Bailey received a letter, signed by MISD associate superintendent Kimberley Cantu for MISD superintendent Jim Vaszauskas, notifying her that the district was placing her on administrative leave with pay "until an investigation is completed." No reason for the disciplinary action was given, but Bailey was instructed to "make no contact with students, parents or other staff members."
Neither Bailey nor her attorney, Giana Ortiz, are currently able to discuss the situation. "I can say, however, that her record in MISD has been exemplary," Ortiz says. "She has touched many lives through her passion for teaching and for her students. I believe it is a great disservice to the children of Charlotte Anderson Elementary that they've been without their art teacher for the majority of this year."
While MISD officials have also declined to discuss specifics regarding Bailey's disciplinary action, a district representative says it "does not condone harassment or discrimination of any kind toward anyone."
"Our current anti-discrimination policy covers all employees, including the LGBT community," Donald Williams, MISD associate superintendent of communications, clarifies. "That's really the heart of Mansfield ISD. We truly believe that and that is our position. We don't discriminate against any of our employees."
About 40 Charlotte Anderson parents and students spoke in support of Bailey last month at a school board meeting. Some carried signs that read "I stand with Miss Bailey."
"She brings diversity to this classroom that is lacking in so many schools and in so many districts today," parent Rebecca Cavitt told the board. "She accepts my child for who she is and she loves her for it. I'm perplexed how this person who everyone seems to adore can be kept from our children."