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“Dedicated” teacher put on leave after Libs of TikTok accuses him of having a drag “fetish”

Photo of a queens red sequined dress, heels and a rainbow flag
Photo: Shutterstock

A Texas high school science teacher has been placed on probation after Chaya Raichik, who goes by Libs of TikTok online, shared images of him wearing drag at school events. However, his students are rallying to his defense against the anti-LGBTQ+ troll.

On Valentine’s Day, Raichik posted several images of Rachmad Tjachyadi, an Indonesian-born teacher at Hebron High School in Lewisville, a city 30 miles northwest of Dallas. The images showed Tjachyadi wearing a pink dress, boots, and a cowboy hat around students in the school hallway; a costume of Ursula the sea witch from Disney’s The Little Mermaid outside of the school in the evening; and a sparkling red dress and heels in a humorous photo taken at a school prom.

Raichik, who regularly makes untrue and inflammatory claims against the LGBTQ+ community, claimed that Tjachyadi regularly teaches in drag and has a “fetish for wearing women’s clothing.” She also tagged the school, school district, and its superintendent in her posts about the teacher on X, noting that the male school dress code at prom expects a suit or a tuxedo, a shirt, and a tie for men.

Several of the images seemed to be taken from Tjachyadi’s Facebook profile. He has since set his profile to private.

On February 15, the school’s principal, Amy Boughton, had made her X account private. Later that day, she issued a message to parents saying that, in response to “a video circulating on social media expressing concerns with the way a staff member was dressed… the staff member has been placed on administrative leave while the district reviews the situation, which is standard procedure.” Boughton said the district couldn’t share any additional information about the “personnel matter.”

Predictably, the so-called Texas Family Project — an anti-LGBTQ+ organization that wants to stop “the Left” from “indoctrinating kids,” “confusing children about changing their gender,” and “undermining parents’ ability to protect their children’s innocence” — called the teacher’s attire “embarrassing.”

“Gone are the days of believing this happens elsewhere but not in my town,” Brady Gray, president of Texas Family Project, told the right-leaning publication Texas Scorecard. “If it’s not there today, without accountability and vigilance, it will be tomorrow. Legislators should take note as well. Parents are tired of having their children indoctrinated and they want school choice now. It is the single best way to keep schools accountable.”

However, Julia Ngo, a Hebron High School student, began a petition for the district to reinstate Tjachyadi. The petition received 500 supportive signatures online 16 hours after Ngo created it.

In the petition, Ngo noted that Tjachyadi wore his pink outfit as part of a school “spirit day.” Other commenters on the petition also said he only wore “drag” on school dress-up days.

“He is being called a pedophile, among other names, however, this is NOT the case and he is beloved by many students at Hebron,” Ngo wrote. “He is a great teacher, he explains chemistry very well and has created a very fun and safe environment for his students. He does not deserve to be defamed and lose his job. He has been an inspiration to many students, and has created a space where everyone can feel valued and safe.”

“He is in no way a pedophile or publicizing a ‘fetish,'” Ngo continued. “In fact, many students in his class encouraged him to wear the dress in the first place. He has pushed many students to become better and shows genuine care for his students. The recent decision to place him on probation has left our community frustrated and disappointed.”

Other commenters on the petition called Tjachyadi “the most attentive, hard working, dedicated teacher I hav ever had,” said he had a “huge heart,” and that he was just “having fun” by dressing as he did.

“While the costumes may have been distracting as some might say, they were on DRESS UP DAYS, where many other teachers were also wearing flashy costumes,” student Isabella Park wrote. “It is wrong to discriminate him based on his gender or sexual orientation. He is not ‘negatively influencing’ us. We all have internet access. We’ve all seen people dressing across the gender binary before. He is not ‘corrupting our minds’ for dressing this way. He’s only having fun and being himself.”

“Mr. T is part of the glue that holds Hebron together,” a student named Gracie Romero wrote. “He’s helped me study several times and takes his time making sure I fully understood what I was learning, I hear my friends who have his class praise his teaching style everyday. There is no reason for him to be out of his class wasting his ability of helping his students succeed.”

“It’s sick how people will drag down an innocent man’s career to support their agenda,” commenter Ryan King wrote. “i hope hebron decides not to turn their back on mr. t now when they’ve had no issue in the past.”

“Clothes don’t matter. Qualifications and kindness do,” another commenter, Christine Andersen, wrote.

Texas is one of four states that restricts the discussion of LGBTQ+ issues in classrooms, according to the Movement Advancement Project. Seven other states have laws either censor discussions of LGBTQ+ people or issues throughout all school curricula or require schools to provide advance parental notification of any LGBTQ+-related curricula.

Texas Republicans passed a book ban on sexually explicit books that opponents said would target LGBTQ+-themed books — a federal court blocked it in January. Republicans have also been trying to pass a “Don’t Say Gay” bill that would result in students being outed and teachers being sued.

“When a law is vague, it allows for discriminatory and targeted enforcement. And it also creates a very hostile and chilling atmosphere where people… go out of their way to self-censor,” said Chloe Kempf, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas.

“[Schools] might not even know what to tell teachers and staff how to actually protect themselves and protect the school district,” said Brian Klosterboer, also of the Texas ACLU.

Texas Republicans also tried to ban drag, but a federal court blocked the ban from going into effect.

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