Friday, November 30, 2012

South Lyon Teacher Promoting Gay Rights is reinstated

     A student brings you a song, movie or link to You Tube and you do not check it out before playing it during the school day. Is that very smart for any professional? In the case of Susan Johnson, she used the poor judgement of using material in her classroom and played a popular song called "Same Love," which advocates gay rights in her middle school classroom. But what was the bigger mistake. Was it her giving one side of a hot button issue and presenting it as a fact or was it the South Lyon school district which at first suspended her then received communication from the ACLU's Michigan's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender project. Johnson at first was suspended for three days and two without pay before the communication and will now be paid for all three of her days off. In the story published in the Detroit News, the story is pretty one sided with no rebuttals from parents or people with a differing opinion and it might be one reason schools should stay away from this issue unless all viewpoints are presented. In the case of Johnson, having her opinion is not in dispute. Forcing it on students is quite another. The smart thing for any educator to do is to use district video sources and get any material approved. The best policy is to follow district policy and Never accept material from a student without looking at it and getting it approved. The story is below. vv
November 30, 2012 at 2:45 pm

South Lyon teacher's pay restored after suspension over gay-themed song

South Lyon — The South Lyon Community Schools teacher who was suspended without pay for playing a gay-themed song, "Same Love," is back at work.
"Her pay will be restored," district spokeswoman Melissa Baker said Friday.
Susan Johnson played the popular hip-hop song, billed as an anthem for gay marriage, during her eighth-grade performing arts class at Centennial Middle School at the request of a student.
Another student complained to administrators, who told Johnson she should have asked permission before playing the song.
Ellen DeGeneres praised the song's artists, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, as her new hip-hop heroes when they recently performed it on her show.
The district said in a statement earlier this week that the use of recorded material in class is covered by the staff handbook.
"It requires that instructor to first preview any taped material to be used in the classroom, including YouTube clips, then submit a completed form about the proposed clip to a building administrator for approval," the district said.
Superintendent William Pearson followed up with another email, apologizing if his decision to suspend Johnson offended anyone.
"I am willing to not uphold the suspension, but the violation of the district practice regarding web-based clips and our expectations for instructions previewing materials under this will remain in writing," he said in a statement.
Gay rights groups expressed disappointment Thursday with the school district's suspension of Johnson, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan said it was looking into the incident.
The ACLU said Friday it would continue looking into the situation.
"That's good news that her pay will be restored and that she's back at work, but we will continue our investigation," said Jay Kaplan, staff attorney for the ACLU of Michigan's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender project.
"Was it about the policy, or is it related to the school not truly wanting to have these topics discussed? We want to make sure they're not trying to censure a message of tolerance for gay people."
The superintendent addressed this concern, in part, in his most recent statement.
"If students believe this discipline is a form of bullying, will encourage bullying, or most importantly, causes any member of our school community to feel they do not belong, then I have sent the wrong message and must correct that," Pearson said. "We want all students to feel they belong and that they are valued, and our policies and procedures must support this."

From The Detroit News: