A couple of weeks ago, the Right-wing Outrage Machine fired up over a teacher at Riverview High School in Florida. As Liberty Counsel told the story, math teacher Lora Jane Riedas “prohibited at least three children from wearing Christian cross necklaces in her classroom, claiming on occasion that they are ‘gang symbols.'”
The group added that Riedas was pressuring students to participate in the LGBT “Day of Silence” in the classroom, which she shouldn’t have been doing as a teacher, and that she “placed LGBT rainbow stickers on students’ classroom folders without their consent.”
She also allegedly told a kid wearing a “Make American Great Again” hat to “get out of my class.”
A District spokesperson said no student or parent had complained about Riedas’ conduct in the classroom, suggesting that the letter from Liberty Counsel came out of nowhere, but they would still investigate the matter.
Well, that investigation is now over… and the District all but says Liberty Counsel was wrong when they accused her of imposing her beliefs onto students.
A letter to Riedas, putting into writing what the District found, shows that she wasn’t out of line.
The kid with the MAGA hat? It’s true she asked him to remove it… but the school has a policy that students shouldn’t be wearing hats in the classroom.
What about the “gang sign” crosses?
Although a few of the students advised the investigator you asked students to remove their cross necklaces, the majority reported that only students who wore rosary beads, were asked to take them off. Subsequently, students advised that you explained that rosary beads were against the school’s dress code policy and may denote gang affiliation.
… so no malicious intent. It’s true that gang symbols cannot be worn in the classroom, but religious symbols like rosary beads or cross necklaces are (and should be) allowed. The letter didn’t address that, but it seems likely students will still be able to wear them. If Riedas told them not to, it certainly wasn’t out of religious intolerance.
What about the “LGBT” stickers on the folders? And the promotion of LGBT issues in the classroom?
… students disclosed that the stickers you placed on their folders did not have LGBT letters on them and every student interviewed advised the investigator you do not promote LGBT issues in class.
While Riedas used her personal Twitter and Facebook pages to promote LGBT issues, she did it on her own time. That’s perfectly legal. She also didn’t use her role as the school’s Gay Straight Alliance group to “coerce, force, or encourage students to participate” in the Day of Silence. In fact, in an email she sent through the school’s internal system, she even referred to the “students of R.G.S.A., who are sponsoring this event at RHS.”
In short, said the District, “the evidence obtained in the investigation does not support the allegations” made by Liberty Counsel.
They urged Riedas to “use caution whenever interacting with students,” which is really just a formal way of saying, They’re watching you, so don’t do anything stupid, not that you did this time.
You would think Liberty Counsel would hear all this and welcome the report. After all, their concerns of Christian persecution turned out to be false!
Of course that’s not what they did.
The counsel’s founder, Mat Staver, pointed out a paragraph at the end of the letter that warns Riedas to “use caution whenever interacting with students” — a line Riedas described as standard.
Staver also said the fight is not over.
“We’ll be following up with another letter to the school,” he said. “We have other students who have come forth in other classes as well. We’ll likely get that letter out tomorrow, Wednesday the latest.”
He won’t stop harassing a teacher who’s an out lesbian because she dares to show concern for LGBT students in the classroom. This is what conservative Christians do. They bully people and then whine about persecution when their victims stand up to them.
Next time, if people complain about a teacher, Staver should ask them if they’ve raised their concerns with school administrators first. But that would waste a perfectly good opportunity to send a nasty letter and fundraise off of it, wouldn’t it?
He owes Riedas an apology.
Ultimately, Riedas comes away from this clean as a whistle. That’s all that really matters.
— LoraJane Riedas (@LoraJane) May 8, 2017
— LoraJane Riedas (@LoraJane) May 8, 2017
(Image via Shutterstock)