Although she was named 2016 Teacher of the Year by Charlotte Anderson Elementary School, a Texas art teacher was put on administrative leave after asking officials to consider adding LGBT-inclusive language to her district's antidiscrimination policies.
Stacy Bailey, who teaches in the Mansfield Independent School District, sent an email last August to school administrators to "begin a conversation" about inclusiveness toward "sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression," according to The Dallas Morning News. In the emails she cited how school districts in San Antonio, Dallas, and Austin have LGBT inclusive language in their stance against discrimination.
"We have many LGBTQ teachers, students, and families in the district. We deserve the right to feel protected by our district," Bailey's email read. Two weeks after her first email, she sent another one to two counselors at the Ben Barber Innovation Academy, asking if the school had an LGBT alliance group.
After the counselors informed Bailey there was a gay-straight alliance headed by culinary arts teacher Lisa Amoriello, Bailey reached out to Amoriello via email for advice. The next day, adminstrators told Bailey she was being placed on paid leave; the letter she received did not cite a reason.
Bailey has not commented on her suspension, which just passed the six-month mark. Bailey's lawyer, Giana Oritz, has also not commented on that matter but offered a word on her integrity, referencing her record as a teacher.
"Her record in MISD has been exemplary," she said in an email to the Morning News. "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."
Oritz's words echo the thoughts of many parents and community members. Around 40 people showed up at the February 28 Mansfield school board meeting to support the art teacher. Some brought signs reading "I Stand With Miss Bailey."
The school board has declined to comment on Bailey's situation.