Education

Teacher Allegedly Banned Students From Wearing Crosses

A high school teacher in Tampa, Fla., has allegedly banned at least three students from wearing Christian cross necklaces, according to a letter sent to the superintendent of the school district.

Liberty Counsel, a nonprofit litigation group that promotes religious freedom, in a letter to Hillsborough County Public Schools Superintendent Jeff Eakins detailed math teacher Lora Jane Riedas’ actions.

The letter claims Riedas told at least three students they could not wear their Christian crosses.

“We write on behalf of parents of children in the classroom of teacher Lora Jane Riedas, a math teacher at Riverview High School, who report that Ms. Riedas has prohibited at least three children from wearing Christian cross necklaces in her classroom, claiming on occasion that they are ‘gang symbols,’ “ wrote Liberty Counsel.

“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. Referencing the tiny cross necklace which was around the student’s neck, Ms. Riedas said, “I need you to take your necklace off.”  When the student asked why, Riedas allegedly refused to explain and then stated, “That’s disrespectful; you have to take it off.”

The student “did not want to be disrespectful, so she took it off, but she felt bad because she felt she was being forced to deny her faith. All of our clients are afraid to openly wear their cross necklaces in class any more,” the letter states.

In addition, the letter claims that Riedas has promoted the LGBT agenda in her classroom. Her classroom is decorated with LGBT political themes, which include posters, stickers and buttons. Students’ classroom folders were all decorated with LGBT rainbow stickers one day when they arrived at school without their permission, the letter claims.

An investigation of Riedas who works at Riverview High School is now being initiated, the school district told The Daily Caller.

“We are in receipt of the letter from the Liberty Counsel. We have been in contact with the principal to initiate an investigation. However, the principal says she has not received a complaint from any student or parent regarding any claims made in the Liberty Counsel document regarding this teacher,” said Tanya Arja, public relations manager for Hillsborough County Public Schools, in an email.

Riedas is also a member of GLSEN which champions LGBTQ issues in K-12 education. GLSEN’s “Day of Silence” will be celebrated on Friday, April 21.

Riedas did not respond to a request for comment.