Bias Watch

School district increases security after being targeted by hate influencer Chaya Raichik over a joke

Chaya Raichik
Chaya Raichik Photo: Screenshot

Hate influencer Chaya Raichik can’t take a joke, and her lack of humor led to threats against a school.

A teacher in Des Moines, Iowa posted a picture with the words, “Every day is another opportunity to force kids in public schools to be gay,” to social media. The joke was about how conservatives – like Raichik, who goes by LibsofTikTok online – believe that teachers are turning students gay even though that is not how sexual orientation works.

“This is an actual elementary school teacher in @DMschools,” Raichik posted to X on Friday. She then shared the teacher’s full name. Her fans raged at the teacher and called for her to be fired in the replies, many clearly not understanding that the teacher would not be making students gay.

“@DMschools just locked their replies after getting ratioed,” Raichik bragged in a later tweet.

Des Moines Public Schools said that it had to increase security after it was targeted by Raichik and her followers.

“Because of harassment and even threats triggered because of an employee’s social media post, we have had to increase our public safety presence at a school and notify law enforcement,” a district spokesperson told the Des Moines Register, adding that the district “invests a great deal of resources to assure the safety and well-being of our students and staff.”

“In this situation, we are not taking anything for granted in light of the well-documented disruption this anti-LGBTQ group has triggered elsewhere around the country,” they continued.

The spokesperson was referring to Raichik’s public embrace of the fact that her online activism leads to threats of violence. USA Today reported earlier this month about the correlation between LibsofTikTok’s anti-LGBTQ+ posts and incidents of threats and harassment aimed at the specific hospitals, schools, libraries, and individuals the account targets.

Media Matters has documented 33 instances of threats and harassment directed at 25 different institutions after LibsofTikTok targeted them between February 2022 and October 2023. USA Today confirmed “dozens” of bomb threats, death threats, and other forms of harassment that followed the account’s posts since February 2022, including at least two dozen bomb threats directed at schools and libraries during the summer and fall of 2023 alone. USA Today noted that the research likely undercounts the total number of threats, as some may have gone unreported.

Last month, both Vice and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) published similar reports of bomb threats against schools and libraries following Raichik’s social media posts.

Her response to all of this? She posted a picture to X where she was smiling while holding up a copy of the USA Today article and called it a “huge achievement” to have inspired the threats.

Des Moines Superintendent Ian Roberts released a statement on Friday to address the controversy, calling the original post from the teacher “a poor attempt at humor and sarcasm.”

“I want to be very clear: Des Moines Public Schools is an open and accepting place for our students, staff, and families,” Roberts said. “We are proud to be the most diverse school community in Iowa, welcoming everyone regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual orientation.”

“Unfortunately, an online anti-LGBTQ group has taken the employee’s post and shared it widely on social media. This has created countless and unnecessary disruptions, including harassment and even threats, towards this employee and others within the district. This shouldn’t need to be said but perhaps it must: our schools and teachers are focused on providing a quality education to our students, which does not include encouraging or forcing any student to identify with any specific sexual orientation.”

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