June 22, 2024

Fired Christian Teacher Wins $360K in Suit vs. Calif. School District

California’s Jurupa Unified School District board on Monday permitted a $360,000 settlement settlement for Jessica Tapia, a Christian instructor who was fired for refusing to make use of most popular pronouns or lie to folks about their youngster’s gender identity.

“This is wonderful news,” Meg Kilgannon, senior fellow for education research on the Family Research Council, informed The Washington Stand. “Schools behaving this way should find it is very expensive for them.”

“Today’s settlement serves as a reminder that religious freedom is protected, no matter your career,” proclaimed Julianne Fleischer, authorized counsel for Advocates for Faith and Freedom, who represented Tapia. “Jessica’s story is one of faithful courage. She fought back to ensure her school district was held accountable and that no other teacher has to succumb to this type of discrimination.”

District spokeswoman Jacqueline Paul claimed the settlement “is not a win for Ms. Tapia” as a result of [the Jurupa school district] “has not admitted any fault or wrongdoing.” However, the settlement quantities to greater than 5 occasions the median wage ($68,000) for a Jurupa college district instructor.

“The settlement certainly does not state or prove any illegal action or discrimination by the district,” Paul asserted. But Fleischer responded, “If the school district’s actions were legal, no teacher of faith would be qualified to serve as a public school teacher.”

The Jurupa college district fired Tapia in January 2023 after she stated her spiritual beliefs made her “unable to comply” with the district’s directives “to refrain from disclosing the gender identity of a student who is transgender to a parent who does not know the student’s gender identity” and “to address students by their preferred name and preferred gender pronouns.”

“It was crazy to be in the position where I realized that I couldn’t be a Christian and a teacher,” stated Tapia, a mom of three kids herself. “I made sure to clarify, too, with [the] district personnel that were sitting across from me. I looked them in the eye, and I said, ‘Are you asking me to lie to parents?’ and they said, ‘Yes. It’s the law.’”

California legislation stipulates that “parents … have an absolute right to access to any and all pupil records related to their children.” In most circumstances, accessing pupil information requires parental consent. However, guidance from the California Department of Education directs college districts:

A transgender or gender nonconforming pupil might not specific their gender id brazenly in all contexts, together with at dwelling. Revealing a pupil’s gender id or expression to others might compromise the scholar’s security. Thus, preserving a pupil’s privateness is of the utmost significance. The proper of transgender college students to maintain their transgender standing non-public is grounded in California’s anti-discrimination legal guidelines in addition to federal and state legal guidelines.

Disclosing {that a} pupil is transgender with out the scholar’s permission might violate California’s anti-discrimination legislation by rising the scholar’s vulnerability to harassment and will violate the scholar’s proper to privateness.

“You believe that God created man and woman and that God creates every individual to be the person with the gender assigned in the womb and at birth,” the Jurupa college district wrote to Tapia in a termination letter. “Based on your religious beliefs, you cannot be dishonest with parents. … The district cannot accommodate your religious beliefs that … prohibit you from maintaining a student’s gender identity and refraining from disclosing a student’s gender identity from his/her/their parent(s)/guardians.”

“The decision to settle this case was made in conjunction with the district’s self-insurance authority and in the best interest of the students,” Paul claimed, “such that the district can continue to dedicate all of its resources and efforts to educate and support its student population, regardless of their protected class.”

The settlement precludes Tapia from acquiring future employment with the Jurupa college district, which permits the varsity district to proceed hiding college students’ gender transitions from dad and mom with out accommodating this Christian instructor’s scruples of conscience.

Tapia, nevertheless, has different concepts. She plans to affix forces with Advocates for Faith and Freedom in launching “Teachers Don’t Lie, a resource that will be committed to giving a voice of truth to teachers,” she said, including: “I am confident that we are making progress to ensure that no teacher has their faith violated within schoolhouse gates again.”

“What happened to me can happen to anybody, and I want the next teacher to know that it is worth it to take a stand for what is right,” Tapia stated. “Across the country, we are seeing teachers’ freedom of speech and religious liberty violated through policies that require them to forsake their morals. I want teachers to be confident in the fact that the best thing we can do for students is educate in truth, not deception.”

“Teachers must be able to speak truth, especially to parents about their own children,” Kilgannon stated. “I’m very grateful to this teacher for standing up and thankful for the settlement.”

Originally printed at WashingtonStand.com