A lesbian art teacher in Texas was put on paid administrative leave Sept. 8 after discussing her sexual orientation with students at Charlotte Anderson Elementary.
The story went viral on Twitter when
@hijade2madre quoted the Wednesday story by Dallas News with the caption “RT if your cis het teacher ever spoke about their spouse during class and never got in trouble for it.”
The quoted tweet earned more than 65,000 retweets and 125,000 likes in less than a day.
According to a Wednesday article by Daily Mail, the Mansfield Independent School District maintained that teacher Stacy Bailey was put on leave because it received a complaint by a parent alleging Bailey had conversations with students about her sexual identity, which means Bailey “failed to follow its directives about age-appropriate dialogue.”
Bailey reached out to another school regarding the addition of LGBTQ+ language to the district’s nondiscrimination policy.
Bailey, who was her school’s 2016 Teacher of the Year, was suspended only one day after the request.
A recent social media uproar stemmed from a Twitter thread of those who wanted to express their opinions on the matter.
“Good. I don’t want my kid knowing that about her,” Kistom Jarrospm (@JJHARRISON1) tweeted Wednesday in response to the Dallas News story. “I don’t want my kid taught to be gay. I don’t think that people these days care about the other people who have different beliefs and now I say this I’ll get attacker’s because I’m not for it. But I have gay friends. Stop pushing.”
There are plenty of issues with Harrison’s tweet, one of which being a child can be “taught to be gay.”
The idea that sexual identity is a choice is a myth that LGBTQ+ people and allies are constantly trying to explain. Perhaps Harrison should have attended the class so he could understand sexual identity a little better.
Yet, Harrison was not the only one who shared the sentiment in the replies.
“But it’s true – she has ‘no right’ to discuss her sexual orientation with elementary school children! WTF? Should ALL teachers discuss their sexual orientation with elementary school children?? What right??” mjneac (@mj_neac) tweeted Wednesday in response to the thread.
According to Kids Health, an organization that gives advice on health and development among children and teens, sexual orientation is often discovered before children reach their teens.
“Gay and lesbian teens often deal with an extra layer of stress,” Kids Health’s website says, “like whether they have to hide who they are, whether they will be harassed about being gay, or whether they will face stereotypes or judgments if they are honest about who they are.”
Children and teens knowing their teachers and peers are the same could be a saving grace to students who worry about being judged for their sexual orientations.
The underlying issue is that some students may not have parents who support LGBTQ+ people, and those children may never learn about their own sexual identities without any exposure in school.
Even though this teacher simply expressed she was a lesbian, that could be enough to help LGBTQ+ students know they belong.