So much for a lesson in tolerance.
A performing arts teacher in Michigan has been suspended for playing a song about being gay to her students.
Susan Johnson, a teacher at Centennial Middle School in South Lyon, MI, said one of her eighth grade students approached her asked if he could play a song called “Same Love” during class. The song, performed by Seattle-based hip-hop artist Macklemore, is in support of marriage equality.
“I asked him a few questions about the song…if it was violent, if there was any profanity, and he said no,” Johnson told Fox affiliate WJBK-TV in Detroit.
“I really love my kids and I never want to hurt them, but I also know that there’s a lot of bullying and there’s a lot of gay bashing and racial issues going on in our country and I want the kids to feel comfortable in my class no matter who they are,” she added.
Johnson says as she listened to the lyrics, she felt the song could provide a valuable teaching moment. “This is one of the things in my school that we’re trying to practice and we’re trying to instill in our students is tolerance to diversity.”
But one student disagreed and complained to the school’s principal. She says by the end of the school day, the principal and an assistant superintendent told her she was suspended for three days, two of which would be without pay.
“I don’t think that it was really even thought through,” she said. “I was paralyzed. I really didn’t understand why I was being suspended.”
Johnson says the paperwork involving her suspension cites her with playing a song with controversial lyrics about homosexuality and religion and for failing to ask for permission to play it in class.
“I really love my kids and I never want to hurt them, but I also know that there’s a lot of bullying and there’s a lot of gay bashing and racial issues going on in our country and I want the kids to feel comfortable in my class no matter who they are,” Johnson said.
The teacher has enlisted the help of the ACLU and Affirmation, who are investigating her case further.