Lesbian Teacher Must Stop LGBT Activism, Banning Cross Necklaces in Class: Religious Liberty Group

(Photo: Liberty Counsel)Buttons hang from a desk organizer in Lora Jane Riedas' classroom at Riverview High School in Riverview, Florida in this undated photo.

Liberty Counsel, a national religious liberty law firm, sent a second letter to a Florida public school district over concerns that a lesbian high school teacher, who says she is a Christian, has been promoting LGBT issues in class and forcing students to remove their cross necklaces.

"Liberty Counsel now represents four students who independently confirmed and provided additional information regarding the classroom political activism and bullying" of Lora Jane Riedas, the teacher at Riverview High School, part of the Hillsborough County Public Schools, the law group said.

"Her social media confirms her activism during class time. School officials failed to properly address and discipline Riedas' behavior, despite the obvious contradictory evidence."

Though the district conducted an investigation, Liberty Counsel called it "pitiful" and said its  response was "unsatisfactory."

The latest letter cites claims from several students that Riedas told them to remove or cover up their cross necklaces, and confiscated pro-President Donald Trump "Make America Great Again" hats.

Concerns were also expressed over the math teacher seeking opportunities to engage in "classroom activism" directed by GLSEN (formally known as the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network), and heavily promoting the pro-LGBT "Day of Silence" event at school.

"The bottom line is that teachers like Ms. Riedas are politicizing their classrooms and the school," Liberty Counsel said in its letter. "Her activities are alienating students of faith or with conservative viewpoints, and are contributing to a substantial disruption of the learning environment."

The 45-year-old math teacher, who is married to another woman who also works at the school, has denied political activism during class time. She said she is "confident" she did nothing wrong, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

She also denied banning cross necklaces, noting that she only told one or two students that they could not wear rosary beads because it was against the school dress code as some consider them gang symbols.

"I'm a Christian myself. I would never do that because I would be hurt if someone would tell me not to wear my cross," Riedas told Tampa Bay Times in April.

Liberty Counsel strongly disputed Riedas' explanation, however, and stated in the letter:

"Ms. Riedas did not just ban 'rosaries' as she apparently said to the investigator (even if that were permissible, which it is not); she also banned cross necklaces and small crucifixes. In fact, we provided the District a picture of one of the cross necklaces she banned. A picture of another is attached. Neither necklace was a rosary."

"One had Jesus on a small cross; the other is a plain gold cross; but neither can in any way be considered a so-called 'gang symbol.' Moreover, the student who had worn the rosary had done so after receiving it for confirmation, as a symbol of faith."

The law firm also found that Riedas has been placing rainbow stickers on all the students' notebooks, and that her classroom is decorated with pro-LGBT political ideology.

"The Hillsborough County Public Schools must renounce the unconstitutional bullying behavior of Lora Jane Riedas," said Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel.

"Riedas cannot ban religious jewelry and discipline students who wear Christian cross necklaces or MAGA hats. 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."

Others besides Liberty Counsel have also accused Riedas of wrongdoing.

Local conservative leader Terry Kemple, who ran three times unsuccessfully for Hillsborough County School Board, urged the teacher to "apologize to her students," and argued that she "should be precluded from coercing any of her students to participate in the so-called 'day of silence.'"

"If not, 'she should be fired,'" Kemple said.

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