Art teacher Stacey Bailey was loved by everyone at Charlotte Anderson Elementary and even received the “Teacher of the Year” award. But there was one rule she never followed while teaching in class.
Stacey often talked about her personal life and problems with her students. And when she shared an innocent photo in class, she ended up getting fired. Should Stacey have left her personal life at the door before entering the classroom, or did the school make a huge mistake?
Stacey’s co-workers, students, and their parents all loved her, and for many, she was a role model. Stacey has always been there for her students, helping them every step of the way.
She was especially close with a third-grader Heather, who suffered from social anxiety. The girl’s mother, Carol, appreciated Stacey helping Heather handle her anxiety and remembers feeling relieved knowing her daughter had someone to talk to. But, she had no idea what kind of a person her daughter’s teacher really was.
“I learned more from my elementary school-aged daughter about art history than I ever did in college,” Heather’s mom recalled.
But soon, something would happen that would shock Carol to the core. She would regret trusting the Charlotte Anderson Elementary school with her daughter.
Carol was happy that Stacey had taught her daughter so much about art and that she would be able to use this knowledge in the future.
“She was able to tell us who the artist was, the meaning of different aspects of the painting, tell us about the painter and how he was close to his mother and had painted it during a period of mourning after her death,” Carol said. But then, things took a turn for the worse.
“My husband and I were stunned. We googled it. Everything she was telling us was right there in Wikipedia,” Carol said.
But then, something happened at Charlotte Anderson Elementary that left Carol and the other parents at a loss for words.
One morning, Carol and the other parents learned that Stacey had ”created disruption to the Charlotte Anderson Elementary School educational environment” when she showed her students a photo on her cell phone.
They all wanted to know what she had done to receive such a horrible accusation.
Mansfield Independent School District refused to comment on Stacey’s personal matters, so it took a while for the children’s parents to learn what had happened.
According to some students, Stacey was sharing a slideshow in class, and one photo in there had caught everyone’s attention. What was it? And why did she get fired for showing it?
One of the photos on Stacey’s slideshow featured her fiancee, Julia Vazquez, wearing a Nemo costume from the movie “Finding Nemo.”
And when the kids’ parents heard about it, all hell broke loose. Some parents complained to the school district about Stacey showing inappropriate photos in the classroom, which resulted in a district releasing a public statement about Stacey’s behavior in class.
Carol and another parent argued that Stacey never discussed her gender orientation in their childrens’ class.
But the art teacher wasn’t going to let the school district punish her for being gay. ”When a straight teacher happily announces that she and her husband are expecting a baby to her elementary class, is she saying something inappropriate to very young and impressionable students?” she asked.
Stacey continued, “Is she announcing her sexual orientation? Is she presenting her life in a way that promotes her political beliefs? Of course not. She’s simply sharing facts about her life.”
Stacey sued the Mansfield Independent School District for discriminating against her based on her sexual orientation. Did she win the battle?
In February 2020, a federal judge declared Stacey’s suspension unconstitutional, and the Mansfield Independent School District awarded her a $100,000 settlement.
Part of Stacey’s settlement also required the district to remove her suspension from her permanent record and provide compulsory training to its staff on LGBTQ-related topics at school. But what did Stacey do with her settlement money?
Stacey donated $10,000 of her settlement money to a charity that supports LGBTQ children in school.
But did she ever go back to teaching art in school again?
After her suspension was lifted, Bailey was invited to teach art at a high school that eagerly accepted her.
Stacey has a message for the school districts that treat LGBTQ teachers and students the way she was treated at Charlotte Anderson Elementary.
“If you are a school district that thinks you can bully a gay teacher out of their job, I hope you remember my name, and I hope you think twice,” Stacey said in a press conference.
No one deserves to be treated the way she was treated at her last job. But what is Stacey up to now?
Currently, Stacey is occupied with her new job at a high school and her wife.
She hopes that her story will change people’s opinions on the LGBTQ community and encourage them to treat everyone equally.