A Michigan teacher who was suspended after playing her students a music video by a Seattle rapper in support of same-sex marriage has been reinstated with pay following public outcry. But, the district says the teacher still broke the rules by not seeking permission ahead of time.
A student who took issue with Susan Johnson playing the song “Same Love” by Macklemore reported her to school officials. The song follows the struggles of a gay man from birth through death.
Johnson said she played the song to her eighth grade performing art students as a way to teach her students about tolerance and diversity.
Two hours later, she was escorted from the building and suspended.
The suspension was lifted Tuesday after protests from the public, students, alumni and the American Civil Liberties Union. A district spokesperson said Johnson’s pay will be restored.
Although the suspension is lifted, both the superintendent and school board members insist that Johnson still went outside posted rules which say any taped material played in class must be approved ahead of time. WXYZ in Detroit reports one board member called Johnson a “rogue teacher.”
The Detroit News reports several people questioned whether the suspension was due to Johnson not following the rules or if it was the district choosing to avoid the controversial subject.
"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," Superintendent William Pearson told the Detroit News. "We want all students to feel they belong and that they are valued, and our policies and procedures must support this.”
The assistant superintendent for the South Lyon School District said she is forming a committee to look into creating more diversity programs.