Posted with permission from WND
Officials at Hillsborough County Public Schools in Tampa, Florida are being asked to stop the bullying by a math teacher who is an open advocate for the LGBT lifestyle and has, among other things, banned students from wearing cross necklaces in her classroom.
The nonprofit legal group Liberty Counsel said it would prefer for the district to rein in the teacher, Lora Jane Riedas, without the necessity of a court case.
But Liberty Counsel is ready to take action – through a federal lawsuit – if it is needed “to vindicate the parental and student rights.”
The district did not respond to multiple WND calls requesting comment.
Liberty Counsel said the teacher, known for being an LGBTQ “ally” and a member of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s Leadership Institute, has gone overboard in her advocacy for her chosen lifestyle.
She features 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.'”
“The bullying behavior of Lora Jane Riedas is outrageous and unconstitutional,” said Mat Staver, founder 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 letter to Supt. Jeff Eakins points 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. 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,” says the letter, which also lists the state board of education’s code of ethics rules that Riedas appears to be violating.
“In banning cross necklaces from three different students in her classroom, Ms. Riedas has ‘intentionally violate[d] or den[ied] a student’s legal rights.’ The right to wear a cross necklace is clearly established. There is no question that students have the right to wear religious jewelry, despite any specious claim of ‘gang affiliation’ by Ms. Riedas.”
She even subjected a student “to unnecessary embarrassment or disparagement,” the letter states.
Liberty Counsel said the law is clear on several points: “Students do not shed their constitutional rights at the school house gate,” and “Parents, not agents of the state, including Ms. Reidas, and certainly not GLSEN, have the right to direct the upbringing and associations of their children.”
“The Hillsborough County School District is hereby on notice that any further violations of student rights in this fashion will be viewed by Liberty Counsel as sufficient to support a federal lawsuit for civil rights violations.”
The letter was sent to members of the board of education in addition to the superintendent. The board members include Cindy Stuart, Sally Harris, Susan L. Valdes, Melisa Snively, Tamara Shamburger, April Griffin and Lynn Grey.
WND reported last month 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.
Consequently, Liberty Counsel will “take further action to prevent irreparable harm to the rights of our clients, as well as the parents of other children whom the school is recruiting in the absence of their parents’ knowledge and permission,” the group said in a letter to school officials from Richard L. Mast Jr.
Principal Mary Jensen of Forrest Bird Charter School, which runs middle- and high-school operations, “admitted the secrecy under which school staff and others had operated,” Liberty Counsel said.
School employees even “facilitated kids meeting off-campus at a local library under the supervision of ‘supportive’ third parties.”
“Jensen stated that they wanted to be ‘a progressive school on that sort of thing, but we did not want to be ‘in-your-face’,’ so parents could not prevent their children from attending. She states ‘we’re keeping it kind of on the down low,’ because ‘this is North Idaho,’ and ‘kids who wanted to participate in the club did not necessarily want their parents to know,'” Liberty Counsel explained.
“Principal Jensen also stated that starting this club was one of her goals, saying, ‘The adults … we spent months trying to do this thing.’ Incredibly, Ms. Jensen also claims that ‘we don’t want the kids to be ‘excluded’ from ‘developing the [club’s] mission statement, because it’s their club.’ She also states ‘One of the members of the adult crew wanted us to be the activists, doing the parades, you know, be in-their-face kind of stuff.’ ‘We decided not to do activism at first, because that’s a big step.’ She stated, ‘I didn’t want to do that … because this is North Idaho,'” according to Liberty Counsel.