Parents Claim Fla. Teacher ’Turned Student Gay’
A Florida teacher is i the fight of her life against her school district. She is battling the way officials handled accusations that said she had helped turn a female student gay.
Juliet Hibbs (who is herself a heterosexual) is battling the Broward school district, which includes Fort Lauderdale, on the claims. Last year, the (Ft. Lauderdale) Sun Sentinel reported, Hibbs, 47, was the subject of an investigation for misconduct after the girl's parents told Deerfield Beach High School Principal John Marlow that the teacher contributed to the teen's sexual identity.
The school district cleared Hibbs and no action was taken. According to the investigative report, in 2011 the girl, then 18, was in Hibbs' class when the student's stepdad began harassing her on Twitter because he had discovered that she was a lesbian. When Hibbs found out about the tweets, she reported the incident as child abuse and cyberbullying.
"As each message came, she got smaller. I watched her get destroyed," the teacher told the newspaper. When the girl did not return home, her parents complained that Hibbs should have told them about their daughter's orientation.
They added the allegation that Hibbs' played a role in making the girl gay and believed Hibbs told her not go home. But the report from the school district says an abuse counselor told the teen she didn't have to go back home because she was 18.
Hibbs, who has been a teacher for 10 years but is currently on medical leave, told the Sun-Sentinel that she was "shocked by the charges" and that the principal allowed the district to conduct such an investigation in the first place. She is now filing a case with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the school system, Marlow and the assistant principal.
The teacher says school officials should have handled the complaint and the investigation was Marlow's way of punishing her for being outspoken about school issues.
"My career has been ruined," Hibbs told the Sun-Sentinel. "Before Deerfield, I had an impeccable record." She has since reportedly suffered a number of medical problems as a result from the stress caused by the situation.
As for Marlow, he has been accused of intimidation before this.
During the summer, teachers spoke against the Deerfield Beach High School principal. There has yet to be a formal investigation against Marlow but Superintendent Robert Runcie said he would look into the issue.
Activists in Ft. Lauderdale's active LGBT community have rallied around Hibbs, and call the claims against her ridiculous.
"A teacher doesn't determine the sexual orientation of a student," Dr. Katharine Campbell, the director of clinical services at SunServe, an organization that works with LGBT youth, told the newspaper.