Stacy Bailey, a Texas teacher who was suspended after showing a photo of her future wife to students has won a $100,000 settlement from her school district.
Mansfield Independent School District, located in a suburb of Dallas-Fort Worth, agreed to the settlement Monday, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. The district also agreed to provide mandatory training to human resources personnel and counselors on LGBTQ issues and optional training on the matter for other staffers and parents, to have the school board vote on adding sexual orientation to its antidiscrimination policy, and to expunge the suspension from Bailey’s record.
Bailey was placed on administrative leave from her job as an art teacher at Charlotte Anderson Elementary School in August 2017 after a parent complained about her showing the picture to students. It was part of a “get to know your teacher” presentation in which she showed slides of her fiancée, Julie Vasquez, to whom she is now married, along with photos of friends, relatives, and her dog.
Parent Paul Holding raised his objections in an email with the subject line “Homosexual agenda pushed on Charlotte Anderson Students,” which he sent to the superintendent of schools and other district officials.
Bailey, who was twice named the district’s Teacher of the Year, was allowed to return to teaching in 2018 but was assigned to Lake Ridge High School, where she still teaches. In May 2018, she sued the school district in federal court for sexual orientation discrimination, and last October a judge ruled that the district had violated her constitutional rights.
The school district continues to deny that the pictures were the reason for Bailey’s suspension or that it did anything wrong in her case. “All parties deny any wrongdoing or liability, but wish to resolve their disputes to avoid the time, expense, stress and other impacts of continuing litigation, which would interfere with the mission of educating the students of MISD,” district spokesman Donald Williams said in a prepared statement, according to the Star-Telegram.
Bailey 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.” Her attorney, Jason Smith, added, “This settlement is a win-win for Stacy and the educators and students in Mansfield ISD. The judge’s decision in this case sends a message to school districts all across this country: The Constitution protects gay teachers from discrimination.”
The decision comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is considering whether existing civil rights law — not the Constitution — bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The court heard cases on the matter in October and is expected to issue a ruling by June. The Mansfield district’s vote will come after the high court rules on the matter.
Bailey and Vasquez said they will donate $10,000 of the settlement to a nonprofit dealing with issues affecting LGBTQ students; they did not name the group. Smith plans to donate $10,000 to the Human Rights Campaign.