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’Don’t ask, don’t tell?’ One lawyer says Mansfield ISD policies punish gay marriage

Mansfield teacher files sexual orientation discrimination lawsuit

"The law is on Stacy's side," said her attorney. Watch as he and Bailey's wife defend her case.
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"The law is on Stacy's side," said her attorney. Watch as he and Bailey's wife defend her case.

A gay teacher has been subject to “a barrage of adverse employment actions and professional harms” simply for being in a gay marriage that she refuses to hide, a new filing claims in the federal lawsuit filed by embattled Mansfield educator Stacy Bailey.

The legal filing suggests Bailey is subjected to scrutiny daily for her gay marriage. It describes an work atmosphere characterized by “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” when it comes to gay employees in Mansfield schools.

“But ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is no longer the law of the land,” states Fort Worth attorney Jason Smith, who represents Bailey. The complaint adds that the Supreme Court has made it clear that lesbian and gay couples have the freedom to marry.

Still, the court document argues that Bailey has been persecuted for being married to another woman.

“Ms. Bailey also enters the school as a woman, as gay, and who is married to another woman,’” the complaint said. “For that alone, the Mansfield Independent School District subjected her to a barrage of adverse employment actions and professional harms.

Although the school district now responds with a smattering of procedural arguments and technical excuses, they cannot deny a central fact: if Ms. Bailey were married to a man or had not mentioned her familiar status, none of this would have happened.”

Thousands of women and men marched together Saturday in downtown Fort Worth in support of women's rights and other social issues. Listen to what activists and other supporters had to say.

Asked about the amended court complaint, the Mansfield school district responded: “Mansfield ISD does not discuss personnel matters. Furthermore, any other details cannot be discussed because they are matters of pending litigation.”

The Mansfield art teacher was placed on paid administrative leave for about eight months after a parent complained that she was pushing a gay lifestyle to elementary-level children.

Paul Holding, the father of two Charlotte Anderson Elementary students told the Star-Telegram in August that he complained to Mansfield school district officials last year that Bailey was indoctrinating students with a “homosexual agenda” — a concern he still carries.

Holding argues that educators should leave their personal lives outside of classrooms.

Eventually, the district renewed Bailey’s teaching contract, but moved her from an elementary school to Lake Ridge High School.

In May, Bailey filed a lawsuit against the school district for sexual orientation discrimination.

Bailey’s lawsuit states she was singled out after using a common technique among teachers when they are getting to know their students. On the first day of school, Bailey showed students pictures of her parents, her fiancee and best friends. Instead of building school community, her personal story created controversy because her fiancee was a woman.

Bailey shared a photo of herself and Julie Vasquez, who was her financee at the time, dressed in costumes of the popular Disney fish characters Nemo and Dory. The couple married in March.

Bailey’s lessons drew more parent complaints when she explained that artist Jasper Johns had a male partner.

The amended complaint also criticizes a March 27 press release titled: “Mansfield ISD Statement Regarding Art Teacher.” The complaint states that press release shows the district puts the rights of parents above LGBTQ employees’ right to marriage.

“The March 27 Statement revealed a policy (and/or practice or custom) of requiring gay faculty to refrain from discussing their family or who they were (unlike heterosexual faculty) and gave a single parent veto power of a teacher’s ability to reference same-sex marriage or relationships — even it other teachers in opposite-sex marriages would be allowed to do so in the same manner.”

Bill Hanna: 817-390-7698, @ fwhanna
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