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School teacher Susan Johnson suspended after playing rap song in support of same-sex marriage

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Punished: Performing arts teacher Susan Johnson says she was suspended for three days for playing a song about being gay for her class Punished: Performing arts teacher Susan Johnson says she was suspended for three days for playing a song about being gay for her class  
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A Detroit-area performing arts teacher has been suspended without pay last week for playing a song about being gay during class.

According to middle school teacher Susan Johnson, the principal and assistant superintendent delivered the news to her after a student complained.

Johnson said she allowed the song Same Love by the Seattle-based underground rapper Macklemore to be played during her eighth-grade class at Centennial Middle School in South Lyon at the request of a student.

Afterwards, however, another student went to the principal and complained about the song. Johnson was later informed that she would be suspended for three days, and she wouldn't be paid for two.

'I don't think that it was really even thought through,' she told MyFox Detroit. 'I was paralyzed. I really didn't understand why I was being suspended.'

In a statement emailed to The Associated Press Thursday, South Lyon Community Schools Assistant Superintendent Melissa Baker said Johnson failed to follow district protocol, which requires teachers to preview taped materials and submit a form about them to a building administrator for approval.

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School controversy: Officials at Centennial Middle School in suburban Detroit told Johnson that she had to submit the song for approval before playing it for her students

School controversy: Officials at Centennial Middle School in suburban Detroit told Johnson that she had to submit the song for approval before playing it for her students

It all started last Wednesday when an eighth-grader in Johnson’s class asked her to play the rap song Same Love which describes the struggles and stereotypes a gay man faces from birth to death.

The son was written by Macklemore and his producer, Ryan Lewis, in support of same-sex marriage, which was legalized in Washington state this month.

Since the music video of Same Love was posted on YouTube in October, it has been viewed nearly eight million times. 

The teacher listened to the lyrics to ensure that there are no profanities and mentions of violence, and came to the conclusion that her students might benefit from hearing a message of tolerance to counteract gay stereotypes and bullying. 

Life story: The song follows the struggles of a young gay man from birth to death

Life story: The song follows the struggles of a young gay man from birth to death

Unfit content: School officials took issue with the topics raised by the song, among them homosexuality, religion and political views

Inappropriate content: School officials took issue with the topics raised by the song, among them homosexuality, religion and political views

After one of her students complained to school officials about the song, Johnson was called in for a closed-door meeting when she was informed that  she was be suspended from teaching for three days.

The district claimed the song was not fit to be played in class since it explored such controversial topics as homosexuality, religion and politics views, and included a sexual slur.

'I'm very disappointed in the bias, the bigotry that I feel that they're really hiding behind,' Johnson said.

District Superintendent William Pearson told Hometown Life in an email that the teacher was required to preview the material prior to using it in class. 

Johnson has resumed teaching this week, but said that the American Civil Liberties Union and LGBT groups are getting involved in the matter on her behalf.

In response to a Daily Mail request, Macklemore released a statement Thursday which reads in part: 'I believe that Ms. Johnson getting suspended is completely out of line and unjust. 

'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.'

Strong statement: The son was written by Macklemore in support of same-sex marriage, which was legalized in Washington this month

Strong statement: The son was written by Macklemore in support of same-sex marriage, which was legalized in Washington this month

The rapper goes on to say that he wrote the song Same Love in hopes of starting a conversation about equality, and Johnson's suspenion demonstraes that people are often too quick to silence dialogues that must be had.

'It’s discouraging that a song about love and civil rights has led to a teacher getting suspended from her job.  

'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,' Macklemore wrote.

'SAME LOVE' LYRICS BY MACKLEMORE:

When I was in the third grade I thought that I was gay
‘Cause I could draw, and my uncle was, and I kept my room straight
I told my mom tears rushing down my face
She’s like “Ben you've loved girls since before pre-k shrimp”
Trippin’, yeah, I guess she had a point, didn’t she?
Bunch of stereotypes all in my head.
I remember doing the math like, “yea I’m good at little league”
A preconceived idea of what it all meant
For those that liked the same sex
Had the characteristics
The right wing conservatives think it’s a decision
And you can be cured with some treatment and religion
Man made rewiring of a predisposition
Playing god, aw nah here we go
America the brave still fears what we don’t know
And god loves all his children, is somehow forgotten
But we paraphrase a book written thirty-five-hundred years ago
I don’t know

And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
I can't change
Even if I try
Even if I wanted to
My love
My love
My love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm

If I was gay, I would think hip-hop hates me
Have you read the YouTube comments lately
"Man, that’s gay" gets dropped on the daily
We become so numb to what we’re saying
A culture founded from oppression
Yet we don’t have acceptance for ‘em
Call each other faggots behind the keys of a message board
A word rooted in hate, yet our genre still ignores it
Gay is synonymous with the lesser
It’s the same hate that’s caused wars from religion
Gender to skin color, the complexion of your pigment
The same fight that led people to walk outs and sit ins
It’s human rights for everybody, there is no difference!
Live on and be yourself
When I was at church they taught me something else
If you preach hate at the service those words aren’t anointed
That holy water that you soak in is then poisoned
When everyone else is more comfortable remaining voiceless
Rather than fighting for humans that have had their rights stolen
I might not be the same, but that’s not important
No freedom till we’re equal, damn right I support it

(repeat chorus)

We press play, don’t press pause
Progress, march on
With the veil over our eyes
We turn our back on the cause
Till the day that my uncles can be united by law
When kids are walking ‘round the hallway plagued by pain in their heart
A world so hateful some would rather die than be who they are
And a certificate on paper isn’t gonna solve it all
But it’s a damn good place to start
No law is gonna change us
We have to change us
Whatever god we believe in
We come from the same one
Strip away the fear
Underneath it’s all the same love
About time that we raised up

(repeat chorus)
Love is patient
Love is kind
Love is patient
Love is kind
(I‘m not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
(I‘m not crying on Sundays)
Love is kind
(I‘m not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
(I‘m not crying on Sundays)
Love is kind
(I‘m not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
(I‘m not crying on Sundays)
Love is kind
(I‘m not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
Love is kind

 

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