A Florida school district delivered an “unsatisfactory” response to a legal team representing several Christian students who claimed they were bullied in class by a teacher because of their faith.
Among other things, the teacher repeatedly ordered students wearing cross necklaces to cover them up or take them off.
The influential legal organization warns it is willing to “take further action to prevent irreparable harm to the rights of our clients.”
WND reported last month Liberty Counsel officials said the teacher, Lora Jane Riedas, a member of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s Leadership Institute, had gone overboard in her LGBT advocacy.
She featured classroom décor that “blatantly promotes a pro-LGBT agenda,” reportedly retweeted during the school day “favorite queer web series for kids” and prohibited “at least three students from wearing Christian cross necklaces because she views them as ‘gang symbols.'”
Here are images of two necklaces the teacher banished:
Further, she put LGBT stickers on the notebooks her class uses. Her lesbian partner, also a teacher, “dressed as a nun for a school spirit week, complete with a ‘cross necklace’ made of skulls,’ and she singled out students for “false ‘misbehavior’ allegations” after they removed the LGBT stickers.
Liberty Counsel noted the teacher’s propensity for bringing her outside interests into the public school classroom, such as promoting GLSEN’s “Day of Silence,” a national homosexual advocacy protest in public schools.
“The bullying behavior of Lora Jane Riedas is outrageous and unconstitutional,” said Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel. “A teacher cannot ban students from wearing cross necklaces when other students are permitted to wear secular jewelry. Nor can teachers retaliate against students who refuse to display rainbow stickers on their books to promote an LGBT political agenda. The classroom is for learning, not promoting the LGBT agenda.”
The law firm’s first letter to Supt. Jeff Eakins pointed out that the district’s own policies say a teacher “may not dedicate work time to an outside interest, activity, or association,” and they “may not campaign on school property during working hours on behalf of any political issue.”
“The outside activities Ms. Reidas has promoted on social media during working hours violate all of these restrictions,” Liberty Counsel wrote. “Her LGBT politically activist classroom environment is just as inappropriate as a teacher decorating her classroom space in Democratic or Republican slogans and campaign literature, or badges stating ‘I love Republican Students;’ ‘I Love Democrat Students;’ ‘I Love Pro-Choice Students;’ ‘I love Pro-Life Students.’
“The totality of Ms. Riedas’ behavior is very concerning: banning cross necklaces on one hand, while promoting wholesale LGBT political activism on the other,” said the letter, which also lists the state board of education’s code of ethics rules that Riedas appears to be violating.
The school’s response, Liberty Counsel said Thursday, however, was “pitiful” and a “whitewash of the discriminatory bullying behavior of” the teacher.
“Liberty Counsel now represents four students who independently confirmed and provided additional information regarding the classroom political activism and bullying of Riedas. Her social media confirms her activism during class time. School officials failed to properly address and discipline Riedas’ behavior, despite the obvious contradictory evidence,” Liberty Counsel wrote in a new letter to the district’s chief of staff, Alberto Vazquez.
“Reidas admitted to the school investigator that she used personal Twitter and Facebook accounts but stated it was not during instructional time. She also stated that she did not use her role as the Riverview Gay-Straight Alliance (RGSA) sponsor to coerce students to participate in Riverview’s Day of Silence. Ms. Riedas’ (and Hillsborough Schools) also claim that RGSA club activities are exclusively ‘student led,'” Liberty Counsel summarized.
However, “Riedas’ social media and emails were sent during instructional hours through the Riverview internal internet, promoting the club, GLSEN events and political viewpoints. Moreover, Riedas specifically promoted the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network’s (GLSEN) publicly coercive ‘Teacher’s Guide’ to pro-LGBT classroom activism on ‘Day of Silence,’ without any caveats, urging other teachers to implement its classroom coercion,” the legal team said.
“Riedas told the investigator that only the students who wore rosary beads were asked to remove them because she said the rosary is a ‘gang’ symbol. But, three students wearing small cross necklaces or crucifixes were told by Riedas to ‘take it off”‘or ‘take it off or cover it up.’ One student wore a rosary, which is neither a ‘gang’ symbol nor against school policy. The rosary was provided to the student after receiving it for confirmation, as a symbol of faith,” the lawyers said.
They continued: “Riedas told the school investigator that any student wearing a hat in class is required to take it off. But, Riedas and her lesbian partner, also a teacher at the school, both confiscated a Trump ‘Make America Great Again’ (MAGA) hat from our student client on separate occasions. Each time the hat was in the student’s hands, not on his head. Riedas has been a vocal Hillary Clinton supporter.”
Staver said Hillsborough County Public Schools “must renounce the unconstitutional bullying behavior of Lora Jane Riedas.”
“Riedas cannot ban religious jewelry and discipline students who wear Christian cross necklaces or MAGA hats,” he said. “She cannot use the math class to advocate her LGBT political agenda. She is a math teacher whose job is to teach mathematics, not promote her personal politics. We will not allow the school to ignore this inappropriate behavior in the classroom.”
The new letter insists the school confirm that teachers may not use the activities suggested by GLSEN’s “Teacher’s Guide” during instructional time and reassure the public that students “may wear cross necklaces or other symbols of faith without fear of punishment, to the same extent any secular jewelry or other articles of clothing may be worn.”
And the district needs to confirm hats or shirts displaying political speech “may not be confiscated from students on the grounds that their mere presence is ‘bullying’ to others.”
Finally, Riedas must remove the LGBT rainbow stickers from her classroom notebooks and eliminate buttons such as “PROUD public employee” and “I LOVE MY LGBT STUDENTS,” as well as “Hillary Clinton decals” from her classroom.
The school several times has declined to respond to WND requests for comment. On Thursday, it transferred a called from a reporter several times before leaving the reporter on hold. A WND email request did not generate a response.
WND reported in March on another school where a similar agenda was being pursued.
Faculty and staff members at a charter school in Sandpoint, Idaho, set up a clandestine student “gay” club, recruited students for it and concealed their activism from the affected students’ parents, apparently in violation of federal law, according to letter from Liberty Counsel.