South Lyon, MI — A middle school teacher has been suspended for playing a song about being gay during class.
Susan Johnson, an eighth grade performing arts teacher, was asked by a student if he could play a song last Wednesday.
“I asked him a few questions about the song. If it was violent, if there was any profanity, and he said no,” Johnson said. “And I said this sounds like a great song to go ahead and use for the class.”
The song the student played is called “Same Love” by an underground rapper named Ben Maclemore. The song was written in support of same sex marriage, and talked about the dangers stereotypes and hate by talking about the struggles of a homosexual man from birth until death.
As Johnson listened to the song, she thought it was something her students would be able to learn from.
“This is one of the things in my school that we’re trying to practice and we’re trying to instill in our students is tolerance to diversity,” she said.
One student in the class didn’t agree with the song’s lyrics, and went to the office to complain. Before the school day was over, Johnson said she was told by the principal and assistant superintendent that she would be suspended indefinitely without pay.
“I don’t think that it was really even thought through,” she said. “I was paralyzed. I really didn’t understand why I was being suspended.”
Melissa Baker, the assistant superintendent, didn’t elaborate on the matter. She told reporters, “No one is going to have a comment for you. We don’t go on camera here in South Lyon.”
Johnson said she was disappointed by the bias and the bigotry she felt “they’re [the school] really hiding behind.”
Baker gave Johnson paperwork to explain her three-day suspension. The school district said the song had controversial content — political views, religion, homosexuality, and a sexual slur — and that she should have asked permission before playing the song.
“I really love my kids and I never want to hurt them,” Johnson said, “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.”
Susan Johnson told MyFoxDetroit.com that an LGBT support group called Affirmation and the ACLU are getting involved with her case.