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Teacher Blasts the Cross as 'Gang Symbol,' Forces LGBT Rights Instead

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A Florida public school district faces a lawsuit after a teacher allegedly banned students from wearing cross necklaces in her classroom and began advocating for LGBT rights. 

According to a letter from the Liberty Counsel, Riverview High School math teacher Lora Jane Riedas claimed that crosses are "gang symbols." 

"One of our student clients reports that she had just sat down in class, and placed her books on her desk, when Ms. Riedas approached her," the letter, addressed to the superintendent of Hillsborough County Public Schools, reads. "Referencing the tiny cross necklace which was around the student's neck, Ms. Riedas said, 'I need you to take your necklace off.'"

Liberty Counsel also accused Riedas, a lesbian, of engaging in "political activism" in her classroom. 

"At the beginning of the semester, Ms. Riedas placed LGBT rainbow stickers on students' classroom folders without their consent, which were there one day when the students arrived," the Liberty Counsel stated. "One of our clients reports that after she removed the LGBT sticker, Ms. Riedas' behavior toward her changed markedly for the worse."

Among other complaints mentioned in the letter from Liberty Counsel: The teacher decorates her desk with LGBT buttons and seeks opportunities to use material from the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network or GLSEN.

The letter was sent just ahead of a GLSEN "Day of Silence," which is an annual student-led national event organized to bring awareness to LGBTQ bullying and harassment in schools. 

"Ms. Riedas has further engaged in impermissible LGBT political activism in the classroom, and has indicated her intent to further do so during instructional time," the letter claims. "Ms. Riedas is planning to promote GLSEN's 'Day of Silence' coercive political activities during instructional time in her classroom on Friday, April 21, 2017."

Liberty Counsel is requesting that the school district take action and confirm that it will:

  • Keep Riedas from promoting LGBT political activism during classroom time;
  • Require Riedas to remove pro-LGBT material from her classroom;
  • Prohibit her from interfering in her students' religious expressions;
  • Replace Riedas as the school's Gay, Straight Alliance sponsor.

If the school district does not take action by Thursday, Liberty Counsel is threatening to file a federal civil rights lawsuit. 

The Christian Post reports that the school district is now investigating the accusations.


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About The Author

Caitlin Burke Headshot

Caitlin Burke serves as National Security Correspondent and a general assignment reporter for CBN News. She has also hosted the CBN News original podcast, The Daily Rundown. Some of Caitlin’s recent stories have focused on the national security threat posed by China, America’s military strength, and vulnerabilities in the U.S. power grid. She joined CBN News in July 2010, and over the course of her career, she has had the opportunity to cover stories both domestically and abroad. Caitlin began her news career working as a production assistant in Richmond, Virginia, for the NBC affiliate WWBT