Two transgender students claim teacher harassment

Posted at 2:41 PM, Sep 16, 2016

(WBBH, NBC NEWSCHANNEL) A Florida high school teacher and JROTC instructor has been suspended after an investigation found he tried forcing his religious beliefs regarding sexual orientation and gender identity on his students.

Matthew Garza and Kyle Goffena both identify as transgender and were sophomores in Angel Villanueva's JROTC class last year.

They said Villanueva made it clear at the beginning of the school year that he was against anyone who identified as gay and lesbian, as it did not agree with his religion.

They were comments Garza and Goffena expected from a schoolyard bully, not their teacher.

"He would say that we were an abomination. That we were going to end the world," Garza said.

One day Villanueva stopped Garza in the hallway to hand her something. "He tried offering me a book called Gay No More. That I wasn't happy with who I am and that I would regret this in the future."

Garza eventually complained to her school counselor.

Speaking in front of the school board Villanueva said he was only trying to do what he thought was in the best interest of his students. "My intentions were always the benefit of the kids," he said.

Villanueva did not take questions after the special school board hearing. He will remain on unpaid suspension until the outcome of an administrative hearing.