A Florida high school teacher has allegedly banned several students from wearing cross necklaces.
According to the Daily Caller, Lora Jane Riedas, a math teacher, allegedly told at least three students that they were not allowed to wear Christian cross necklaces in her classroom.
Liberty Counsel, a nonprofit litigation organization which promotes religious freedom, has threatened legal action against the school district over the allegations against Riedas and also claims that the math teacher used her classroom to engage in "political activism" in support of LGBT rights.
Liberty Counsel sent a letter to Hillsborough County Public Schools Superintendent Jeff Eakins detailing the allegations against Riedas.
The letter reads, in part:
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."
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 letter continues to state that 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."
Liberty Counsel accuses Riedas, who is a lesbian, of participating in LGBT activism, stating that her classroom is "permanently decorated with LGBT political themes" and "buttons prominently displayed on her desk, facing students, stating 'I Love My LGBT Students' and 'PROUD Public Employee.'"
"Moreover, 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 letter states, according to the Christian Post. "One of our clients reports that after she removed the LGBT sticker, Ms. Riedas' behavior toward her changed markedly for the worse."
The school district told the Daily Caller that Riedas is currently under investigation.
"We are in receipt of the letter from the Liberty Counsel," Tanya Arja, public relations manager for Hillsborough County Public Schools, wrote in an email. "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."