Christian Teacher Wins $360,000 Settlement After Opposing School’s Gender Identity Policy

A California school district has agreed to pay $360,000 as part of a settlement with a Christian teacher who filed a lawsuit after being fired for refusing to abide by the school’s gender identity policy.

Jessica Tapia, a teacher in the Jurupa Unified School District, was previously told by school officials that she was not allowed to refer to students by their preferred pronouns or to express religious beliefs on students or her own social media accounts, according to a complaint filed by attorneys. The students were told to refrain from sex, and to allow students to use the bathroom and locker room that corresponded with their preferred gender.

When she refused, the school district fired her. Ms. Tapia argued that following her district’s policy would be a form of lying and therefore go against her Christian beliefs. Her complaint cited the Bible and said God “defines human sexuality.”

“Mr. Tapia also believes that all students, regardless of sexual orientation, race, or gender, should be treated with respect, kindness, and love.” complaint Said. “However, her faith does not allow her to support policies that would cause her to reject her own faith, such as promoting gender transition for her students or withholding information about gender transition from her students’ parents.” ”

Tapia sued the school district, claiming her constitutionally protected rights, including the free exercise of religion and free speech, were being violated.

This week, the school district agreed to pay Tapia $285,000 and $75,000 in attorney fees as part of the settlement. The school district denied any wrongdoing.

“Today’s settlement serves as a reminder that religious freedom is protected, regardless of career path,” said Julian Fleischer, general counsel for Faith and Freedom Defenders. a group representing Tapia. “If the district’s actions were legal, a teacher of faith would not be qualified to teach in a public school. Jessica’s story is one of faithful courage. She fought.” return Her school district is held accountable to ensure that no other teacher succumbs to this type of discrimination. ”

Tapia said that in her case, not unique.

“Across the country, we are seeing the free speech and religious freedom of teachers being violated by policies that require teachers to abandon their morals,” Tapia said. I want teachers to have confidence in fact That the best thing we can do for our students is to teach them truth, not deception. I am confident that we are making progress to ensure that no teacher ever again has their faith violated within the school gates. ”

Jurupa Unified spokesperson Jackie Paul said: said Los Angeles Times The settlement was a “compromise of disputed claims.”

“The decision to resolve this case was made in the best interests of our students so that the district can continue to devote all of its resources and efforts to educating and supporting students, regardless of protected class. . Paul said in a statement.

The complaint said Tapia “has invested her entire career in encouraging, loving, and mentoring students.”

“Students, parents, and faculty have often emphasized her exemplary teaching abilities, even calling her an ‘outstanding’ teacher in her performance evaluations,” the complaint said.

Meanwhile, Tapia and Defenders of Faith and Freedom launched “.teachers don’t lie, Resources for educators in similar situations. This new initiative will help teachers understand their constitutional rights.

Photo credit: ©defender of faith and freedom

Michael Faust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years.His story is published below baptist press, Christianity Today, christian post, of leaf chronicle, of toronto star And that Knoxville News Sentinel.