An art teacher who has been in a year-long battle with her Texas school district over what she says is homophobic discrimination is back in the classroom — but not the same classroom she was forced to leave last fall.
Stacy Bailey was twice selected Teacher of the Year at Charlotte Anderson Elementary School in Texas’ Mansfield Independent School District, where she started in 2008. But shortly after she showed her students a photo of her and her “future wife” last August during a “Get to Know Your Teacher” presentation, she was placed on administrative leave.
According to Bailey’s lawsuit against the district and two school administrators, which was filed in May, a parent complained to the school board and the superintendent that Bailey was promoting a “homosexual agenda” in the classroom. The complaint eventually led to Bailey being placed on administrative leave in early September and then being asked for her resignation in late October, which she refused to give.
Now, Bailey is back in a classroom, but not her classroom: The Dallas-area school district transferred her from an elementary school to a high school, doubling her classroom size from approximately 20 students to around 40.
“She has never taught anything other than an elementary school level,” Jason C. N. Smith, Bailey’s attorney, told NBC News.
“She’s disappointed that she doesn’t get to return to Charlotte Anderson, and the learning curve to teach at the high school level is daunting, but Stacey loves teaching art to students and hopes to find it rewarding, even with the increased workload,” Smith added.
While Texas is one of 28 states that does not have a state law protecting employees from sexual orientation discrimination, Smith said the defendants violated Bailey's constitutional rights due to her sexual orientation, citing 42 U.S. Code Section 1983.
“Defendants placed plaintiff on administrative leave, improperly publicly discussed her employment status publicly, refused to return her to her previous position in an elementary school, transferred her to a secondary school and determined she was not appropriate to teach elementary students all because of her sexual orientation and status as a lesbian,” Bailey's lawsuit states.
Shortly after Bailey’s lawsuit was filed, the Mansfield Independent School District sent NBC News a statement saying Bailey’s lawsuit does “not warrant merit,” and the district “categorically denies the allegations,” claiming it “has been an inclusive, supportive environment for LGBT staff for decades.”
The district, at the time, claimed the issue was not Bailey’s sexual orientation but whether she “followed district guidelines requiring that controversial subjects be taught in ‘an impartial and objective manner.”
Last week, the district filed a motion to dismiss Bailey’s lawsuit, saying her new high school position “is arguably a more prestigious position than that of an elementary school art teacher.”
Bailey’s lawsuit claims the defendants damaged her professional reputation and caused her mental anguish. She is seeking to be reinstated to Charlotte Anderson Elementary, “a declaration that defendants illegally discriminated” against her “due to her sexual orientation,” attorney fees and unspecified punitive damages.
“I anticipate that Mansfield is going to be stubborn about this, and so one of us will end up appealing,” Smith, Bailey’s attorney, said on Monday. “We are going to appeal it as far as necessary.”