School Reimburses Suspended Teacher’s Pay After Playing LGBT Equality Song

When Susan Johnson played “Same Love” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis for her performing arts class, she believed she was helping students improve their tolerance of diversity. The song discusses marriage equality and mistreatment of people who are gay. But after a student complained about the song, South Lyon’s Centennial Middle School suspended her for three days, including two without pay, claiming she violated a policy requiring administrative review of all video clips before they’re played in a class. Now, she has been reinstated and her pay was restored. Superintendent William Pearson explained the decision:

I am willing to not uphold the suspension, but the violation of the district practice regarding web-based clips and our expectations for instructions previewing materials under this will remain in writing. […]

If students believe this discipline is a form of bullying, will encourage bullying, or most importantly, causes any member of our school community to feel they do not belong, then I have sent the wrong message and must correct that. We want all students to feel they belong and that they are valued, and our policies and procedures must support this.

What remains a mystery is to what extent the content of the song played into the school’s overreaction. The ACLU is continuing its investigation “to make sure they’re not trying to censure a message of tolerance for gay people.”


When Macklemore heard about Johnson’s suspension, he responded on his blog that “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.”