By Georgianna Reilly, LMSW
SJS Staff Writer
Recently, a middle school teacher in the Detroit, Susan Johnson, area played a the song “Same Love” in her performing arts class at the suggestion of a student. The song’s lyrics support and promote diversity, by supporting same sex marriage and mentioning the harassment faced by homosexual youth. The songs lyrics do not contain foul language or violence, yet after a student in her class complained about the song Ms. Johnson was promptly suspended for three days from teaching, including two without pay.
Is this a type of censorship? Is it Bigotry and ignorance on the School’s part? I for one would say yes and the ACLU and the LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Michigan seems to agree:
” “While we are still investigating this incident, it appears that the South Lyon Community School District is taking a stance against diversity and love,” said Emily Dievendorf, Director of Policy for Equality Michigan.
“Suspending a teacher for playing a song with lyrics like ‘love is kind’ and ‘if I was gay, I would think hip-hop hates me’ says more about the school district’s intolerance towards same-sex love than the teacher’s judgment of her student’s music tastes,” said Dievendorf.
“I cannot help but wonder if they would have suspended her for playing a song which speaks positively of opposite-sex love or provides observations on the oppression faced by certain religions,” she added.”
This is what I would want in a teacher, someone who attempts to push the envelope and discuss ‘taboo’ topics while supporting diversity and acceptance. To break the cycle of harassment, hatred and violence we need to start with the youth in every way possible. Unfortunately, many people aren’t ready for this, for the acceptance of others and facing the diversity the surrounds them, and this is a pity.
I think we as social workers should support anyone from any profession who tries to do what Ms. Johnson has. A united front has power than individual entities, and this goes far beyond simply the core values and ethics of social workers or teachers. This is an issue for all professionals to address. I appreciate Ms. Johnson’s attempts at promoting diversity and wish her the best in her efforts in the future! Hopefully this will not hinder her from further lessons in the future.
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