Officials from the South Lyon Community School district in Michigan are under fire after their decision to suspend a teacher who allowed one of her students to play a song advocating marriage equality. Susan Johnson, a performing arts teacher, allowed an eighth grade student to play the song “Same Love” by Macklemore & Lewis for the entire class, a decision school administrators deemed worthy of a three-day leave, two of which without pay.
The song includes lyrics that criticize right-wing politicians for deeming homosexuality a choice and criticizes the stereotype that artistically inclined students must be gay, among other stereotypes.
“I asked him a few questions about the song -- if it was violent, if there was any profanity, and he said, 'No.' And I said this sounds like a great song to go ahead and use for the class,” Johnson told the local Fox affiliate. “This is one of the things in my school that we’re trying to practice, and we’re trying to instill in our students tolerance for diversity.”
Administrators apparently disagreed after being notified of the teacher’s decision to play the song by a student who was “offended” by the song, which advocates “human rights for everybody.”
“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, adding she did not understand why she was being suspended.
“I don’t think that is was even really thought through.”
The Detroit News reported the ACLU and local LGBT support groups are expected to get involved, but school officials have remained mum on the issue. Administrators released a statement saying only that teachers were not allowed to play YouTube clips without permission. That excuse was apparently not enough for Johnson, who said, “I’m very disappointed in the bias, the bigotry that I feel that they’re hiding behind.”
The music video for “Same Love” by Macklemore & Lewis is below.