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Lesbian teacher suspended for telling students about her wife settles with school district

An elementary school teacher who was suspended after telling students about her "future wife" has reached a settlement with the school district, ending a nearly three-year battle. Stacy Bailey, who taught at Charlotte Anderson Elementary in Mansfield, Texas, was suspended in 2017, CBS DFW reports.

Bailey, who was named "Teacher of the Year" twice, showed a photo of her "future wife" and family during a welcome-to-school presentation. She was accused of promoting a "homosexual agenda" and then suspended for more than eight months. Her suspension also came after she asked for LGBTQ protections in the district, according to CBS DFW. 

In May 2018, Bailey sued Mansfield Independent School District (ISD) and then-Superintendent Jim Vaszauskas. She said she was discriminated against due to her sexual orientation, in violation of the United States Constitution.

In October of 2019, a federal judge ruled that the Constitution clearly protected Bailey's right to be free from sexual orientation discrimination. "The Judge's decision in this case sends a message to school districts all across this country: The Constitution protects gay teachers from discrimination," Bailey's attorney Jason Smith said.

Stacy Bailey, left, and her wife Julie Vasquez. Bailey, who was named "Teacher of the Year" twice, was suspended after she showed a photo of her "future wife" and family during a welcome-to-school presentation. CBS DFW

As part of their settlement with Bailey, the school district will pay $100,000 to Bailey and her attorney and provide a letter of recommendation for her for future employers. 

Smith will donate $10,000 of his reduced fee from this case to the Human Rights Campaign, the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer civil rights organization, according to its website. Bailey and her wife said they will also donate $10,000 to a non-profit for LGBTQ student issues.

Bailey said the "agreements the district and I made in this settlement are a positive first step in making things better for gay employees, gay students and gay families in Mansfield." Her attorney said it was a win-win for Bailey as well as the educators and students in the district.

Mansfield ISD will also "provide mandatory training to Human Resource and Counseling staff regarding LGBTQ issues in schools, and offer optional training to be attended by administrators, educators, staff, or parents who may wish to attend such training."

The district's board of trustees will vote on whether to add a prohibition of "sexual orientation" discrimination to its policies within 60 days of the end of the Supreme Court term, CBS DFW reports. 

In a press release sent to the station, Bailey thanked "Judge Lindsey for his ruling, her wife for her support, Mansfield ISD President Karen Marcucci for showing leadership in her work to resolve the case, teachers and parents for showing their support, and the students of Charlotte Anderson elementary for showing Stacy so much love and light as a teacher."

In a statement to CBS News, the district's Associate Superintendent of Communications and Marketing Donald Williams said the board voted on the agreement in an "amicable and beneficial manner."

"All parties deny any wrongdoing or liability, but wish to resolve their disputes to avoid the time, expense, stress and other impacts of continuing litigation, which would interfere with the mission of educating the students of MISD," the statement read.

CBS News has reached out to Bailey and her lawyer, Jason Smith, and is awaiting response. 

The treatment of LGBTQ teachers has been an issue at other schools throughout the U.S. Earlier this month, students and parents in Burien, Washington, held a protest after a Catholic school outside of Seattle allegedly forced out two teachers for being gay.

Kennedy Catholic High School claimed that both English teacher Paul Danforth and soccer coach Michelle Beattie "voluntarily resigned" shortly after they got engaged to same-sex partners.

However, Danforth's fiancé Sean Nyberg said in a statement to CBS News that his partner was "no longer employed specifically because he and I got engaged… This is not only personally painful, it also harms former students who looked up to them."

Catholic school students protest after gay teachers' alleged ouster 03:41

In 2019, a teacher in Round Rock, Texas, got positive attention when she shared that her rainbow flag, which represents LGBTQ pride, inspired her young neighbor to pen a heartfelt letter.

"Seeing a pride flag was so proudly outside your house every day have given me the courage to come out to my family and be more comfortable with who I am," the boy wrote to Meghan Stabler and Sal Stow.

In an interview with CBS News, Stow said she was fortunate to work in an accepting school district that offers protections for LGBTQ staff and students, and spoke about the impact that has. 

"My students and my colleagues know. Because if I don't live out and proud, I just perpetuate that it's something to be shameful of, and it's not," she said. "I'm no different than anybody else. I love who I love — and love is love."

"And that's important because if students don't feel safe, they don't excel as they could if they were feeling safe," Stow said.

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