WPTV News/YouTube

Grade school teachers calling on students to answer a question should relate to the lesson, not to a student's personal life.

A fifth-grade student at Northport K-8 in Port St. Lucie in Florida is embarrassed to go back to school because a teacher asked if she was a lesbian in front of the whole class.

The 11-year-old girl's mother, Jezenia Gambino, is duly upset after hearing about the incident which stemmed from a circulating rumor.

"The rumor was that my daughter and another 5th-grade little girl were dating."

You can watch the WPTV news report below.

Gambino said the teacher confronted her 11 year-old daughter and her friend in front of other students.

"She asked them if they were together if they were dating as a couple together and she asked them in a way that they felt they were in trouble."

Gambino did not know about what happened until her daughter received a text from the other girl.

"She wasn't sure if they should hang out together anymore because of what happened in school. She didn't want anyone to think they were gay."

Gambino reported the incident to the school principal which led to the St. Lucie County School District opening an investigation.

On Friday, she learned in an email that the unnamed teacher was given a verbal warning. They were also reported to the Florida Department of Education for engaging in inappropriate communication with a student.

The teacher's actions sparked outrage online.

Ann Glassford wrote on Facebook:

"This is so wrong in many ways!! This teacher should not be teaching since she is biased!!! Every child being taught in school should be able to be themselves without being a accosted for being themselves!!!"
"Especially in a public school! Private schools ya might as well give up on! They have their old ways and won't be accepting of humans without their beliefs!!"

Pruz HM thought the situation should have been handled differently.

"I think asking them in front of the entire class was wrong and should've been handled differently. I think she should also address why the other kids think the two kids are dating."
"The teacher and could also make it a general lesson how not to spread rumors about people when you dont know the facts."

Dana Brooks and many others asked why the teacher had any business in making the inquiry in the first place.

"I would be very angry if a teacher did this to my child. It is so clearly inappropriate to bring something like this up in front of the whole class."
"In the workplace if two employees were dating and a manager needed to address it the company would very much be responsible for creating a hostile work environment if the manager brought the issue up in front of staff that didn't need to be involved."
"These are children they are far less equipped to handle something like this. Also the power differential (from the child's perspective) is far more extreme."

850 WFTL/Facebook

Orlando Sentinel/Facebook

Orlando Sentinel/Facebook

Orlando Sentinel/Facebook

Orlando Sentinel/Facebook

Ryan Thoreson— an LGBTQ researcher at Human Rights Watch—told Head Topics that the incident was a result of a lack of training for school teachers and administrators on LGBTQ cultural competency.

Thoreson wrote in an email on Wednesday:

"One of the most surprising findings from our research on LGBT issues in U.S. schools was that a lot of students said teachers and administrators were a bigger problem for them than other students."
"Other students knew it wasn't OK to be overtly homophobic or transphobic, but school staff would still publicly humiliate LGBT kids for who they dated, what they wore, or how they identified."

Gambino believes the district has not done enough to protect her daughter.

As a result, she felt forced to home-schooling her daughter for the rest of the school year.

She also found herself trying to undo the psychological damage that was inflicted.

"What they did affected my daughter in a way that now I'm having to go back and fix."
Clint Patterson/Unsplash

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