Teacher accused of forcing LGBT rights on students cleared

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A teacher who was accused of pushing LGBT rights on students in her classes by an anti-LGBT group has been cleared.

Lora Jane Riedas, who teaches at the public Riverview High School in Florida, had been accused by the adamantly anti-LGBT Liberty Counsel of pushing LGBT issues in classes while banning rosary beads.

The teacher had said she did not allow rosary beads as they are considered gang symbols in the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance, of which she is the advisor.

Rosaries are not allowed by the school dress code.

Despite the Liberty Counsel issuing a complaint, Riedas has now been “a hundred percent cleared”.

After reviewing a letter from the district’s Office of Professional Standards, she told the Tampa Bay Times: “I am just relieved, relaxed, for the first time in two weeks.”

But the Liberty Counsel’s founder Mat Staver, disagrees that the teacher is off the hook.

He points to a paragraph at the end of the letter which says she should “use caution whenever interacting with students”.

Despite this, Riedas says the paragraph is standard.

But Staver added: “We’ll be following up with another letter to the school.

“We have other students who have come forth in other classes as well. We’ll likely get that letter out tomorrow, Wednesday the latest.”

Ten students interviewed had corroborated Riedas’ assertion that she did not discuss LGBT rights in classes.

Some students, however; had drawn rosaries and religious symbols on their maths papers in protest against the school policy.

Others carried signs ouside the school attacking the teacher.

Riedas and her wife, who also works at the school as a chemistry teacher, Valerie Chuchman, were given posters supporting them.

“The kids’ response to the protesters was really amazing,” Riedas tells the Tampa Bay times. “Not just the kids, but the teachers, parents, the PTA and the school. I had a couple of kids from four years ago come and give me a hug, saying ‘I’ll miss you’ and ‘thank you.’”

The LIberty Counsel letter had also claimed that students were banned from wearing ‘Make America Great Again’ hats.

But Superintendent Jeff Eakins said on Monday that the investigation had been thorough.

“We, as a district, have a responsibility to our employees to give them due process,” he said.

“This investigation revealed that we are being respectful to all students. We’re being respectful to our employees in giving them due process. We always have to make sure that we are hearing the whole story,” he adds.

But Riedas has said she doesn’t even know which student had complained.

Others have said they are worried about a ripple effect on LGBT students by the campaign against the teacher.

The Liberty Counsel famously defended jailbird court clerk Kim Davis, who refused to issue marriage licences to same-sex couples.