California School District Pays Hefty Settlement to Teacher Fired for Refusing to Play the Pronoun Game

Person holding sign encouraging use of gender pronouns. (Credit: Unsplash/Alexander Grey.)

The Jurupa Valley School District in California caused a controversy last year when it decided to fire a teacher for refusing to refer to students by their chosen gender pronouns.

Now, it appears they might regret that choice.

Jessica Tapia, who worked as a physical education teacher, will receive a hefty payout after filing a lawsuit against the district.

A school district in Riverside County will pay $360,000 to settle a suit by a former high school teacher who was fired after refusing, for what she described as religious reasons, to promise to call transgender students by their chosen pronouns or to keep their gender identity secret from their parents.

The Jurupa Valley Unified School District agreed Tuesday to pay $285,000 to former high school gym teacher Jessica Tapia and $75,000 to her lawyers at Advocates for Faith and Freedom, a conservative religious nonprofit. The settlement said it was not an admission of wrongdoing by district officials, but Tapia’s lawyers proclaimed a victory for religious rights.

Tapia “fought back to ensure her school district was held accountable and that no other teacher has to succumb to this type of discrimination,” said attorney Julianne Fleischer.

School district spokesperson Jacqueline Paul said the district decided to settle the case “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.”

School officials agreed to the settlement despite regulations by the California Department of Education ordering schools to let students decide who, if anyone, should be informed of their gender identity. The state says the rules are authorized by a 2015 law requiring schools to allow transgender students to take part in all programs and to use restrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity.

Tapia’s refusal to go along with the gender identity charade was rooted in her Christian beliefs. Her actions eventually resulted in her termination after a campaign was launched against her.

Tapia is a committed Christian and her social media posts reflect her beliefs about many issues, including political issues surrounding gender ideology. In a coordinated campaign, some students began not only monitoring her account and sometimes commenting on her personal posts, but also digging into older posts made over the years.

The mother of three was allowed to return to her position in the fall, but after taking some time off for medical leave, was forced to participate in a “religious exemption” review regarding the complaints before she could return to work for good. Unfortunately, her job did not survive the review when she indicated she could not, in good conscience, comply with rules requiring her to hide the gender identity of students from their parents, nor would she be allowing “male genitalia” in the locker rooms with girls.

Advocates for Faith and Freedom filed the lawsuit against the district in May 2023. The organization celebrated the settlement in a statement released on X, noting that the outcome “serves as a reminder that religious freedom is protected, no matter your career.”

“Today’s settlement serves as a reminder that religious freedom is protected, no matter your career,” said Julianne Fleischer, legal counsel for Advocates for Faith and Freedom. “If the school district’s actions were legal, no teacher of faith would be qualified to serve as a…

— Advocates for Faith & Freedom (@advocates4faith) May 15, 2024

The district’s policies require teachers to use students’ chosen names and pronouns and to conceal this information from their parents. Tapia took issue with the policy, saying that the district “wanted me to lie to parents about their kids, and I just couldn’t do that.”

The outcome of this story further highlights how lawfare can be an effective weapon against those seeking to foist gender ideology on the public. Instead of being cowed into going along with the illusion that men can become women and vice versa, the courts are quickly proving to be a viable battlefield for sane, rational people who understand basic biology.


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