I recently read an article about a Michigan teacher who was suspended for three days without pay because she allowed one of her middle school students to play a song that supports gay marriage (Michigan TeacherSuspended for Letting Student Play Gay-Themed Song in Class). One of the other students in the class was offended by the song and reported it to administration and the teacher was punished. I’m not sure if the school understands the message that they sent to the teacher and all of her students: teaching about being tolerant of gay people is offensive and has no place in the classroom. I’m sure that is not the intended message, but that is how it seems. I’m assuming the school has a zero tolerance policy because those can be over the top sometimes. The song did use the word “faggot.” Perhaps that violated the school rules. If so, then I hope the school is fully enforcing that rule. I hope every time “gay” is used as an insult in that building and every time any student dares to utter the word “faggot,” consequences are swift and appropriate.
I read the article and I wondered what the other students in the class thought about the song. I wondered how the kid who played the song felt. I wondered if the class had a discussion about the song or if they just listened to it and moved on. The song is a good teaching moment for any class because there are so many things in it that can be discussed. The teacher didn’t have to say what was right or wrong, but she could have facilitated a class discussion. The school suspended Johnson because the song contained “controversial content, including homosexuality, religion, political views, and a sexual slur.” I wonder if the school even cared about the message. Most middle school students can go see PG-13 movies without their parents. If the same ratings were applied to songs, “Same Love” would probably be PG, but at its worst, it would be PG-13. The content might be controversial, but it isn’t inappropriate for middle school kids and it wasn’t the teacher who wanted to present the song to the class, it was a student. I’m sure there was a reason why the student selected that song. I could understand the outrage if the song had been profanity laced or made vulgar references, but none of that is there. I have included the song below so that you can judge for yourself: