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California School District Settles $360K Lawsuit With Teacher Fired After Refusing To Use Students’ Preferred Pronouns

California’s Jurupa Unified School District settled a lawsuit on Tuesday, agreeing to pay $360,000 to a former high school teacher who was fired after refusing to use students’ preferred pronouns, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Advocates for Faith and Freedom filed suit in May 2023 after then-gym teacher Jessica Tapia was terminated for refusing to comply with the school district’s requirements in 2022 regarding her religious beliefs and students’ gender identity. The school district will give $285,000 to Tapia and $75,000 to her lawyers, according to the Chronicle. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: School District Puts Misbehaving Kids Through Diversity Trainings Instead Of Suspending Them)

“Today’s settlement serves as a reminder that religious freedom is protected, no matter your career,” Julianne Fleischer, legal counsel for Advocates for Faith and Freedom, said in a statement. “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.”

The lawsuit alleges that the school district insisted Tapia “lie to parents about their children’s gender identity, refer to students by their preferred pronouns, refrain from expressing her religious beliefs with students or on her social media, and allow students to use the bathroom or locker room that matched their preferred sex.”

Jacqueline Paul, spokesperson for the Jurupa Unified School District, told the Chronicle that the decision to settle was “in the best interest of the students, such that the District would be able to dedicate all of its resources and efforts to its student population regardless of their protected class.”

Tapia and Advocates for Faith and Freedom are subsequently launching a new campaign called “Teachers Don’t Lie,” which will help religious educators understand their constitutional rights and provide recommendations on responding to school district policies that go against their faith, according to the post on X.

“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 said in a statement. “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.”

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