Parents and staff spoke out at a Mansfield Independent School District school board meeting Tuesday night about the suspension of an elementary school art teacher. The teacher is a lesbian and talked to students about her wife before being placed on leave.
The teacher, Sarah Bailey, has not been able to speak publicly while her case is under review by the school district. But at Tuesday night’s meeting her wife, Julie Vasquez, spoke on her behalf.
"The last 228 days in our home have been wrought with disbelief, fear, confusion and a deep sadness,” Vasquez said. “She is a dedicated and talented teacher who year after year has received exemplary reviews and twice teacher of the year. Is this what MISD does to its best and brightest?"
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Bailey is an art teacher at Charlotte Anderson Elementary. She was suspended after a parent reportedly complained about her discussing her wife with her students.
The district released a statement saying in part that Bailey hadn’t followed the administration’s directions regarding age-appropriate conversations with students.
Tuesday night, a large number of parents and community members spoke out both for and against the suspension, including a retired Mansfield ISD teacher.
"No parent ever became offended by my introducing my spouse. No one ever thought I was discussing sexuality because I said this my husband," said retired teacher Lisa Duhamel.
Parent Angela Martin countered, “I’m here to show support for the Mansfield ISD decision to place Ms. Bailey on leave. It is not appropriate for teachers to promote the LGBTQ agenda to elementary-aged school, intermediate school or high school children, especially without the parental consent."
Many of the speakers also called for Mansfield ISD to change its anti-discrimination policies to include protections for the LGBTQ community.
The District said any changes would have to go through a policy review committee and that process may begin this summer.
Teacher contracts for next school year were also on Tuesday night's board agenda. As of this writing the meeting was still ongoing but a district public relations officer said Sarah Bailey was among those expected to be asked back in the fall.