Florida teacher faced investigation after student came out as lesbian

A high school social studies teacher in Deerfield Beach, Florida has filed a complaint against the Broward County school district over the way the district handled an allegation that she encouraged a student’s lesbianism.

The misconduct investigation occurred last year after the student’s parents alleged that the teacher, Juliet Hibbs, persuaded the student to come out as a lesbian, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports. The school’s principal, Jon Marlow, initiated the investigation.

The district ultimately exonerated Hibbs and took no action against her or anyone else.

According to the report that came out of the district’s investigation, the unnamed high school girl was a student in Hibbs’s class. At some point during the school year, the girl’s parents seem to have discovered that she was gay. Her stepfather responded by besieging the girl with Twitter messages, which Hibbs called child abuse and cyber-bullying.

According to local NBC affiliate WTVJ, the girl’s parents charged that Hibbs knew about the girl’s sexual orientation and but failed to tell them. They also believed that Hibbs influenced the girl, then 18 years old, to come out as a lesbian and to leave home, never to return.

The district’s report notes that it was actually an unnamed abuse counselor who advised the girl that she had the option to move out since she was legally an adult, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

Hibbs, who is reportedly straight, said that fighting the accusation was quite an ordeal.

“I was shocked by the charges,” she said, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

Hibbs is now on medical leave. She is pursuing a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the Broward County school district, the principal and an assistant principal.

Hibbs alleges that she has developed a host of stress-related medical problems as a result of her ordeal, according to the Sun-Sentinel. She also says that her 10-year career as an educator is now effectively ruined.

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