By MICHAEL FOSSBAKK, Staff Writer
A South Lyon performing arts teacher, Susan Johnson, was suspended last Tuesday for allowing a student to play a song about homosexuality.
The song in question, “Same Love” by hip-hop artists Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, deals with the subject of homosexuality and its music video depicts the life of a gay man from birth to death. It should be noted, however, that the video was not played in class, just the song.
Johnson’s student asked if they could play the song for the class to which Johnson asked a couple questions about whether it was violent or if it contained profanity. The student said no and Johnson said it would be fine.
According to Fox 2 News, “as [Susan] Johnson listened to the song, she said she thought to herself, ‘This is something her students could learn from.’”
One student, however, took offense to the song and went to the principal’s office to express their concern, resulting in a three-day suspension for Johnson, two of which were without pay.
The decision to suspend Johnson came from the school’s principal, Derek Ross, and assistant superintendent, Melissa Baker. Paperwork from Baker, given to Johnson, explains that their reason to suspend Johnson was due to the song including content related to homosexuality, religion, politics and a sexual slur.
The paperwork also says that Johnson should have asked permission from administration before playing the song in class, but Ross says that he would have rejected it even if she had asked due to the song’s subject matter.
Johnson returned to work on Thursday.
Author of “Same Love”, Ben “Macklemore” Haggerty, has commented on the story on his blog, stating, “I believe that Ms. Johnson getting suspended is completely out of line and unjust. However, I think it’s important for moments like these to be exposed and for us to pay attention and respond.”
“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.”