California school district pays out $360K to fired Christian teacher who opposed transgender policy requiring secrecy

A Southern California school district that fired a Christian teacher who put her faith above the district’s transgender policies has paid out $360,000 to settle the lawsuit.

The Lion reported…

A Southern California school district that fired a Christian teacher who put her faith above the district’s transgender policies has paid out $360,000 to settle the lawsuit.

The Lion reported last year that former Jurupa Unified School District (JUSD) physical education teacher Jessica Tapia was fired because she wouldn’t agree to school district policies that forced teachers to keep students’ gender status secret from parents. 

In the six-figure settlement agreement, the district was not required to admit wrongdoing. Nonetheless, Tapia’s attorneys said the settlement will serve “as a reminder that religious freedom is protected, no matter your career.” 

“If the school district’s actions were legal, no teacher of faith would be qualified to serve as a 

public school teacher. 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,” said Julianne Fleischer, legal counsel for Advocates for Faith and Freedom, which represented Tapia. 

Accommodations should have been made by the district to satisfy Tapia’s religious beliefs, Tapia’s attorneys said, and Tapia “never [had] an instance when she didn’t abide by school and state policies,” reported the Los Angeles Times.  

Instead, the district confronted the Christian teacher after students reported to the district administrators they found Tapia’s private social media activity about transgender issues and religion “offensive.” 

The district then required Tapia to curtail her social media activities and agree to uphold the district’s policies on transgender issues, said the Times. 

“I essentially had to pick one,” Tapia told Fox News. “Am I going to obey the district in the directives that are not lining up with… my own beliefs, convictions and faith? Or am I going to stay true…, choose my faith, choose to be obedient to… the way the Lord has called me to live? And so it was crazy to be in the position where I realized that I couldn’t be a Christian and a teacher.” 

She said that she didn’t agree with the district that parents should be “left in the dark about some very pertinent information” regarding the health and well-being of their children.  

She also had problems with district policies on issues relating to pronoun usage and school bathrooms for transgender students.   

After asking for a religious accommodation for her beliefs, JUSD fired Tapia. 

After the settlement, the teacher hopes other teachers will have the courage to stand up. 

“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,” said Tapia about the settlement with the district. 

As an outgrowth of the case, Advocates for Faith and Freedom, along with Tapia, founded a group to help Christian teachers retain their religious liberty, called Teachers Don’t Lie.   

“I want teachers to be confident in the fact that the best thing we can do for students is educate in truth, not deception. This is why I’m joining forces with Advocates for Faith and Freedom to launch Teachers Don’t Lie, a resource that will be committed to giving a voice of truth to teachers. I am confident that we are making progress to ensure that no teacher has their faith violated within schoolhouse gates again,” said Tapia.  

The group will serve as a free legal resource for Christian teachers whose religious convictions are under attack by public school districts around the country.   

“We aim to provide educators with a thorough understanding of their constitutional rights, as well as give options on how to respond to their school district when being asked to go against their sincerely held religious beliefs,” the website explains.