Texas Teacher Fired for Showing Kids Photo of Future Wife

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 7, 2018

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Queer WeddingStacey Bailey, an art teacher at an elementary school in Arlington Texas, was fired after she showed fourth grade students a slide show that included a photo of her female partner.

Bailey introduced herself to the students by showing slides of herself as a child and of her family and friends. She and Julie Vazquez, her partner of seven years, were shown dressed in fish costumers from Finding Nemo. Bailey referred to Vazquez (to whom she is now married) as her “future wife.”

“Homosexual Agenda”

As the New York Times reported, shortly after Bailey gave the slide show the principal told her that a parent had complained she was promoting a “homosexual agenda” in class.

The assistant principal told Bailey that the parent had complained that Bailey had shown the children “sexually inappropriate” images.(Bailey and Vazquez were fully dressed in the fish costumes and weren’t even touching in the photo.)

Teacher of the Year

Bailey was asked to resign shortly after the complaints, but she refused. She had been a teacher at the school since 2008 and had twice been voted teacher of the year.

Bailey was later put on leave and transferred to a secondary school.

Bailey’s attorney, Jason Smith, said that this sends the message that the school feels that LGBT teachers shouldn’t teach  elementary students.

In May, Bailey sued the school district for discrimination, saying that her career had been damaged. She wants to return to teaching in an elementary school.

The school district contends that her sexual orientation is not an issue and alleges that Bailey had failed to 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.

In a press release, the school district said Bailey was placed on leave not because of her sexual orientation but because she discussed her sexual orientation with elementary-age students.

According to the Times, Bailey said

The bottom line is that our family has a right to talk about our family just the same as any other family.

Split Courts

As I blogged about recently, US courts are split over whether civil rights law apply when people are discriminated against based on their sexual orientation.

In a case involving a lesbian college professor, the Seventh Circuit  Court of Appeals ruled that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act did protect workers from employment discrimination.

A federal appeals  court in New York made a similar ruling in a case involving a gay skydiving instructor.

However, an appeals court in Atlanta concluded that civil rights laws didn’t  apply to cases involving alleged discrimination based on sexual orientation.

As the Washington Post reported, many states have laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, but there is no federal statute that makes this clear.

Wedding Cake

As the New York Times reported,  the US Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who had refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, on religious grounds. However, the Court ruled on narrow grounds and didn’t decide whether businesses in general can discriminate against potential customers on the basis of their sexual orientation.

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