DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. — A Florida high school teacher has filed a complaint against the Deerfield Beach, Fla., school district over its handling of an investigation after a parent alleged that she had a hand in turning a student into a lesbian.
Juliet Hibbs, who is straight, was investigated last year for misconduct after the girl’s parents made the allegations to the school’s principal. Eventually, the district cleared her and no action was taken.
According to the district’s investigative report, the incident began last year while the student was in Hibbs’ class. The student was reportedly barraged with incendiary messages from her stepfather on her Twitter feed after he discovered the girl’s orientation, reported the Broward Sun Sentinel.
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Hibbs said she reported the stepfather’s messages as child abuse and cyber-bullying.
The parents told investigators they were upset that Hibbs had not told them about their daughter’s sexual orientation, and accused her of possibly contributing to their daughter being gay.
“I was shocked by the charges” and the principal’s decision to have the district pursue the matter, said Hibbs, 47, who is now filing a case with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the school system.
Hibbs said the complaint should have been handled by the school and she believes the district investigation was an attempt to bully her for being too outspoken on other school issues.
“My career has been ruined. Before Deerfield, I had an impeccable record,” said Hibbs, an educator for 10 years. She said she now has several medical problems from the stress of the situation that will likely prevent her from teaching.
LGBT advocates also called the charges absurd.
“A teacher doesn’t determine the sexual orientation of a student,” said Dr. Katharine Campbell, director of clinical services at SunServe in Broward County, which works with gay youth. She said teachers are there to help students find out who they are and helping them shouldn’t bring repercussions.
“I reported properly and I was charged with professional misconduct for reporting the abuse,” Hibbs wrote in a Facebook post Monday. “This was a tactic by my bullying principal.”