Washington-based rapper Macklemore is defending a middle school teacher who was suspended after playing his pro-gay marriage song in her eighth grade performing arts class.
Susan Johnson was suspended for three days after she honored a student’s request to play the song “Same Love” in class. Two of those days were unpaid.
Macklemore — whose real name is Ben Haggerty — said the suspension was “completely out of line and unjust.”
“I think it’s important for moments like these to be exposed and for us to pay attention and respond,” Macklemore said.
He continued, “This level of intolerance and fear is still very active in America, but at times is not completely visible. This incident is just one of tens of thousands that have happened across the country where schools have exposed a latent homophobia, preventing safe space for all young people to feel confident in being themselves.”
Macklemore said he didn’t write the song with the expectation of curing homophobia or leading to marriage equality in the United States. But he did intend to “facilitate dialogue,” and believes that is what Johnson was trying do when she played the song in class.
“It’s discouraging that a song about love and civil rights has led to a teacher getting suspended from her job,” Macklemore said. “But that’s where we are at. For those of us who get a pit in our stomach when reading a story like this, it just makes it abundantly clear there is far more work to be done.”
Melissa Baker, the assistant superintendent, said Johnson was suspended because she didn’t have the song and video — which had “no relevance to class material — approved by school officials beforehand, which is the district’s policy.
Johnson said she wanted her students to feel comfortable in her class no matter who they are.