The groundswell of support for suspended Saucedo special education teacher Sarah Chambers has grown both locally and online since the April 18 rally that called for her reinstatement ( she was suspended April 6 ) at the school. In addition to the 100 people who attended the rally, the #LetSarahTeach hashtag reached over 3.1 million people on Twitter that day.
Chambers' supporters also held a Twitter storm with the #LetSarahTeach hashtag on May 8 from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. Central Time. According to Twitter's trending topic listings, the #LetSarahTeach hashtag was a top trending topic in Chicago for the entire three hours.
In addition to this media outreach, a number of Chambers' special education and GSA students also spoke out at last month's Chicago Public Schools ( CPS ) board meeting in support of her reinstatement.
"About a month after I came out to my administration, my assistant principal canceled the Gay Straight Alliance ( GSA ) where I served as the faculty advisor," said Chambers. "The students were very upset, since the GSA is really like a family in our school. For some students, it was the only space where they felt safe. I believe that it sends a bad message to our LGBTQIA students when they see the only open LGBTQIA teacher being targeted for firing. Students should be proud to come out, not scared.
"I'm lucky to have people from all over the country and world supporting me," said Chambers. "I have received letters of support, demanding my reinstatement, from teachers in Japan, Brazil, Puerto Rico among other locales. A number of community, parent and LGBTQIA organizations have written me statements of support including the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance ( The Alliance ), Enlace, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council and Action Now. I have also received support from a number of elected officials including state Rep. Silvana Tabares as well as aldermen Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, Deb Mell, James Cappleman, Raymond Lopez, Ameya Pawar, Susan Sadlowski Garza, George Cardenas, Rick Munoz, Scott Waguespack and John Arena."
Chambers has contacted the fifth member of the Chicago City Council LGBT Caucus, Alderman Tom Tunney, to ask him to support her reinstatement. She is awaiting his reply.
"We hear from many of the CPS students we work with that they are not learning in affirming environments," said Alliance Executive Director Owen Daniel McCarter. "Their sexual education classes are not inclusive of LGBTQ+ identities, staff in their buildings are not trained on the transgender student guidelines, students feel hyper-surveilled and over disciplined and some hear teachers making homophobic and transphobic remarks in class. Sarah's support of LGBTQ+ students is a model for all CPS employees. She is an embodiment of the practices CPS is attempting to instill in their employees."
When Windy City Times contacted Saucedo administrators for a statement they directed all queries about Chambers' suspension to the CPS communications office.
When reached for comment via email, CPS Chief Officer of Strategic Planning and Communications Emily Bittner did not respond to Windy City Times queries about the specific reason CPS suspended Chambers, the public outcry ( including on social media ) demanding that she be reinstated nor CPS' response to Chambers' GSA and special education students appearance at last month's board of education meeting.
Chambers is continuing to work with the Chicago Teachers Union to fight this suspension.
For more on this story see www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Queer-special-ed-teacher-suspended-indefinitely/58802.html and www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Little-Village-community-members-hold-rally-for-suspended-teacher/58904.html .