By Jamie Neben
This article is based on the linked news report.
Susan Johnson, a performing arts teacher in South Lyon, Michigan, was suspended for three days—two without pay—for playing a song about being gay in her eighth grade classroom. She played the song, “Same Love” by Macklemore, at the request of a student who also assured her that it didn’t contain violence or profanity. After another student complained, the teacher found herself reporting to the principal’s office.
Johnson’s reasoning that she wants her kids to be comfortable no matter who they are is a noble one. I hope to someday live in a world where every person can indeed feel secure in their own skin without having to be afraid of any bullying, discrimination, or hostility that might come their way. However, with few exceptions, the school classroom is not the appropriate venue for taking sides in this matter. Just like religion, this topic remains a hot-button issue for many people, and the difference between non-discrimination and promotion can be unclear. That doesn’t mean gay history and issues facing the gay community shouldn’t be discussed. Of course, anti-bullying instruction should be mandatory.
There should be a way to emphasize equality and still keep the peace. It’s absolutely necessary if we are to make progress as a tolerant society. But in order to do that, the teacher must remain neutral.