Education

Gay Mansfield art teacher won’t hide her family life from students, wife says

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.

On the first day of school last year, Stacy Bailey used a slide presentation to introduce herself to students.

In one slide, she introduced her wife-to-be to students with them wearing costumes of the popular Disney characters, Nemo and Dory.

To Bailey, a former teacher of the year, mentioning her fiancee at the time was nothing out of the ordinary. To some parents and administrators in the Mansfield school district, it was something else. It was promoting a gay agenda.

A year later, Bailey has filed a lawsuit against the school district and is back in the classroom. This time it’s a high school instead of an elementary school. The question is: Will she do it again?

Her wife, Julie Vasquez, has confirmed Bailey plans to use the same presentation she did a year ago at her new school, Lake Ridge High. What will be the school district’s reaction if she does?

Vasquez declined to elaborate. Bailey’s attorney, Jason Smith, said his client won’t be talking — for now.

“I really want Stacy to focus on getting back to school,” Smith said. “Right now, with where she’s at, she really doesn’t want to say anything else.”

The Star-Telegram filed an open records request to obtain a copy of the presentation, but a Texas Attorney General opinion ruled it can’t be released by the school district because it is part of a court case. However, if all parties obtain copies of the presentation through discovery, it becomes a public record.

In May, Bailey filed a federal lawsuit claiming sexual orientation discrimination. Last week, the school district filed a motion to dismiss the case. The district said she discussed her same-sex marriage with her second-grade class and that a well-known male artist, Jasper Johns, had a male “life partner.”

“Parents complained about her statements to their children, not her status,” the district’s motion states.

The district maintains that Bailey was placed on leave because of her statements on same-sex marriage and homosexuality to kindergarten through fourth-grade students. It says it employs many LGBT people and has not discriminated against them because of their sexual orientation.

Bailey’s attorney said the Mansfield school district’s interpretation of the law is incorrect.

“The Supreme Court has repeatedly announced protections for LGBT folks,” Smith said.

The teacher’s case drew national attention as her supporters asked Mansfield school district leaders why she is no longer teaching at Charlotte Anderson Elementary School in Arlington. She was on paid administrative leave most of the last school year. She resumes teaching on Wednesday, which is the first day of classes for Mansfield schools.

Bailey’s supporters called on school administrators to let her return to class. The case also drew supporters of the district who described Bailey as someone who was pushing a gay agenda.

The issue prompted a movement in favor of adding more protections for LGBT students and employees in Mansfield. Proponents for a stronger anti-discrimination policy want it to have language that includes sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

Bailey’s contract was renewed on April 23, but the district sent a letter on May 1 informing her that she had been reassigned to a secondary school.

This report contains material from the Star-Telegram archives.
Bill Hanna: 817-390-7698, @ fwhanna
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