At the start of the term at Charlotte Anderson Elementary School in Arlington, Tex., last year, Stacy Bailey, an art teacher, introduced herself to her new fourth grade students with a slide show of her life.
There were photographs of her family, friends and childhood. There was also one of her partner of seven years, Julie Vazquez, who Ms. Bailey explained was her future wife. They were dressed in fish costumes from the film “Finding Nemo.”
That image set off a sequence of reactions from parents and school district officials that Ms. Bailey, 31, says amount to discrimination, according to a lawsuit filed on Tuesday in federal court in Dallas. She says her career was damaged when she was accused of showing inappropriate images to children, put on leave and told she would be transferred.
Ms. Bailey was asked to resign in October but she refused, the lawsuit says.
Some parents and community members have been supportive of the couple, Ms. Vazquez said.
Mr. Smith, the lawyer, said the case highlights a cultural divide in the district, which lies between Dallas and Fort Worth.
“Local leaders tend to be old Mansfield, while the population is tending to be more diverse,” he said.
“She used age-appropriate terms,” he said, describing Ms. Bailey’s classroom presentation. “She never used the term ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian.’ She used the term, ‘this is my future wife.’ She never talked about sex or anything inappropriate.”
Ms. Vazquez said she and Ms. Bailey have been together since 2011 and were married in March.
“The whole situation is just a little mind-boggling,” she said. “The bottom line is that our family has a right to talk about our family just the same as any other family.”