WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (WFLA) — A father is suing a Florida school district, claiming his son’s middle school teacher tried to “change his beliefs” by putting up LGBTQ pride flags in the classroom.
According to NBC affiliate WPTV, Dr. Francisco Deliu filed a lawsuit against the Palm Beach County School District on Oct. 12., evoking the so-called “Parent’s Bill of Rights” – or “Don’t Say Gay” bill, depending on who you ask. Emerald Cove Middle School, its principal Dr. Eugina Smith-Freeman and teacher Rachel Raos are also named in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit implied the teacher tried to change students’ beliefs when she reportedly displayed two “‘gay pride’ (rainbow) flags” in her classroom and when a student asked about them on Sept. 16, the suit claims she “proselytized to the students in class” about “homosexual lifestyles”.
Deliu said his family is Christian-Orthodox and thinks being gay is a sin, stating in the lawsuit it’s “not in accordance with their Bible.” He claimed the middle school is trying to “mold his child’s mind without his consent,” and said “there is no lawful authority that permits the Teacher, Principal, School, District and/or Board to teach, discuss or otherwise educate the students, including Dr. Deliu’s son, about gay pride, homosexuality or the like”.
Deliu is seeking a jury trial, hoping for a judge to declare the teacher’s decision to mention gay pride illegal, on top of ordering the flags to be removed and ordering an investigation into his complaints.
“Dr. Deliu wishes to teach his child about homosexual lifestyle choices not in the public school system but instead at home,” the lawsuit said.
Deliu claimed he asked for his son to be removed and placed in another computer science class on Sept. 21, but the school put him in an art class. The lawsuit claimed his son was “forced into an art class” that does not benefit the 7th grader’s “career”. On Sept. 26, the school reportedly told Deliu that his complaint was referred to the school district’s Office of Professional Standards for an administrative investigation.
The Palm Beach Post reported that Francisco Deliu, who also goes by ‘Frank’, is no stranger to the courtroom. In fact, he was reportedly suspended from practicing law for 15 months in New Zealand before coming to Florida.
When asked for comment on the lawsuit, the school district wrote the following to WPTV:
“The School District does not typically comment on pending litigation, however, we look forward to the facts in this case unfolding during the process.”School District of Palm Beach County
HB-1557 – titled “Parental Rights in Education Act” and referred to by opponents as the “Don’t Say Gay” law – prohibits instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity from kindergarten to grade 3, or instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in a manner that is not “age appropriate” in any grade.
The law also gives parents “the right to direct the education and care of his or her minor child” and “the right to direct the upbringing and the moral or religious training of his or her minor child”, which is what Deliu is claiming in the lawsuit.
A hearing is scheduled for the lawsuit on Nov. 1.