A San Bernardino County teacher filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the school district that fired her, claiming that she was targeted as a lesbian and for encouraging gay students to speak out against harassment and discrimination.
Julia Frost, who taught at Sultana High School in the Hesperia Unified School District for two years, alleges that the campus was a hostile environment for her and for others who were lesbian, gay or gender non-conforming, according to a statement issued by Lambda Legal, the civil rights organization representing Frost in the case.
Hesperia Unified officials dismissed the allegations as “absolutely false.”
Jennifer Pizer, Lambda Legal’s senior counsel, said in a statement that the school pushed Frost out for “being a kind and conscientious teacher and for creating a safe space for vulnerable students. In other words, she was punished for doing her job.”
Frost’s lawyers described her as a “beloved teacher” who received positive performance reviews, yet she was also singled out by administrators, questioned about actions that were identical to those of heterosexual faculty.
At the school, she was faculty sponsor of the Gay-Straight Alliance and taught students how to make formal complaints regarding “criticism and open-hostility” directed at those students, her lawyers said.
In a statement Tuesday, district officials did not address her performance reviews because it doesn’t discuss personnel matters. However, officials disputed her claims.
“The simple matter of fact is that a probationary teacher was legitimately and appropriately dismissed, a fact that will become evident as this matter is litigated,” Hesperia Unified Supt. David McLaughlin said in a statement, “and she is now trying to cloud the matter, and turn it into legal action for personal gain.”
The suit was filed in San Bernardino County Superior Court.