OpinionTrending Commentary

Fired Christian Teacher Wins $360,000 Lawsuit After Opposing School District’s Gender Identity Policy

Dear Rest of America

God works in mysterious ways, or so the saying goes.

God works in ways often deemed “mysterious” because we don’t necessarily understand His methods, and might feel bewildered.

Sometimes, as God Almighty’s dedicated follower, we refrain from certain activities and behaviors in good conscience.

That was certainly the case for one Californian teacher who demonstrated faithful courage by refusing to lie to parents about their child’s “gender identity” or use “preferred pronouns”— and was consequently fired.

Fast-forward one year to May 2024, and fired teacher Jessica Tapia secured a $360,000 settlement from her former employer, California’s Jurupa Unified School District—a win for Christians who stand firm in their faith and motivation for advocates of “parental rights.”

One of Tapia’s attorneys and legal counsel at Advocates for Faith & Freedom, Julianne Fleischer, said in a statement:

“Today’s settlement serves 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,” added Fleischer. “She fought back to ensure her school district was held accountable and that no other teacher has to succumb to this type of discrimination.”

Indeed.

“What happened to me can happen to anybody,” said Tapia, “And I want the next teacher to know that it is worth it to take a stand for what is right.” The brave Christian went on to state that:

“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.”

According to California law, parents supposedly have the “absolute right to access to any and all pupil records related to their children.” However, the state Department of Education declares that “preserving a student’s privacy is of the utmost importance,” and that revealing a student as “transgender without the student’s permission may violate California’s anti-discrimination law by increasing the student’s vulnerability to harassment and may violate the student’s right to privacy.”

Tapia’s deeply personal difficult circumstances—and a test of her Christian faith—was triggered in late September 2022 when the Jurupa Unified School (JUS) District gave her a “Notice of Unprofessional Conduct,” notifying that pursuant to “California Education Code section 44938,” she had engaged in “unprofessional conduct” and levied “twelve meritless allegations.”

In an interview with Fox News Digital, Tapia stated that students had checked her social media posts and “discovered things that I don’t discuss in class,” including various “outspoken Christian conservative” views.

Tapia mentioned she did not associate with the JUS District on her personal Instagram; however, some students evidently took offense at certain “values and beliefs that didn’t align with theirs,” and then forwarded multiple posts from this social media account to the district.

The devoted and enthusiastic teacher experienced unfair and unjust treatment by the JUS District, and was placed on administrative leave at the end of the 2021-22 academic year. Following the district representatives’ meeting, Tapia took a medical leave of absence because the directives on “gender identity” caused her to “suffer severe mental and emotional anguish because she was torn between agreeing to conditions that caused her to violate her religious beliefs or losing the job she worked her entire life.”

As a former student at Jurupa Valley High School, a physical education teacher within the school district, and a member of the school community for over two decades, Tapia was fired in early 2023.

No sooner did Tapia take action against such injustice. A non-profit law firm, Advocates for Faith & Freedom, focused on “protecting constitutional and religious liberty in the courts,” filed a lawsuit on Tapia’s behalf in May 2023, with the civil action based on “Title 7 of the 1964 Civil Rights Act,” which prohibits employers from discriminating based on religious viewpoints.

Tapia, according to filed complaint, said that her faith “precludes her from endorsing policies that cause her to reject her faith, such as facilitating a student’s gender transition or withholding information about it from the student’s parents.”

Furthermore, the complaint also emphasized that the Christian teacher consistently shared her religious beliefs and cultural viewpoints on personal social media accounts without identifying herself as an employee of the district.

As voiced previously, during a meeting with the JUSD or JUS District representatives in 2022, Tapia was served with a notice of unprofessional conduct outlining 12 allegations, which included “expressing controversial opinions” about “gender identity” and “posting offensive content on her public Instagram account.”

Mariah Gondeiro, Vice President and legal counsel for Advocates for Faith and Freedom, said in a statement last year:

“People of faith should be allowed to maintain their personal beliefs without fear of losing their job. Jessica Tapia was not dismissed for any wrongdoing, rather, she was dismissed for her Christian beliefs. This is a clear violation of our Constitutional rights.”

Indeed. Furthermore, the complaint added that:

“Because Ms. Tapia was unable to comply with the directives due to her religious beliefs, she requested an accommodation from the District. JUSD refused to provide her with any accommodation and subsequently terminated her employment with the District.”

And yet, Tapia fought back to ensure that her school district was held accountable so that no other teacher would have to experience this type of discrimination. Such actions will inspire other teachers of similar religious or political persuasion to stand up for what is right and to defend their deeply held moral values.

As part of Jessica Tapia’s settlement this year, the Jurupa Unified School District (JUSD) agreed to pay the Christian physical education teacher $285,000 and $75,000 for her attorneys’ fees given that Tapia will not seek employment with the District.

It is understood that both sides agreed not to file additional litigation. On this note, a spokesperson for JUSD reportedly told media outlet Crisis in the Classroom in an email that, “This settlement is not a win for Ms. Tapia but a compromise of a disputed claim.”

Regardless of the school district’s interpretation of the settlement, Tapia’s ordeal and publicized story highlighting her moral courage will undoubtedly inspire others facing or likely to face similar challenges in their lives.

While the belief system for many over two sexes is grounded in common sense and human biology, for others, it is underpinned or strengthened by their religious convictions. And they should be mindful that while Tapia’s lawsuit was processing through the court system, California’s governor signed several bills aimed at supporting the state’s “protections” for individuals whose personal “gender identity” and sexual lifestyle deviates from a Christian worldview.

In September 2023, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation that will require the state Department of Education to create an “advisory task force to support students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, hence “LGBTQ+” with the plus sign referring to the idea of “limitless sexual orientations and gender identities.”

While a subset of America’s educators and parents have opposed “gender inclusive” school policies, others have highlighted an increasing body of research linking “LGBTQ+ supportive” school environments to improved mental health outcomes for students whose state of mind or lifestyle differs from heteronormativity.

Such research includes a 2018 study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, demonstrating that youth who identify as “transgender” and use a chosen name experienced a 29 percent drop in suicidal thoughts and a 56 percent decrease in suicidal behavior. Additionally, a 2019 study from the Trevor Project, an organization focused on youth suicide prevention and crisis intervention, revealed that “LGBTQ youth” who had at least one accepting adult in their lives were 40 percent less likely to report a suicide attempt in the past year.

If we accept the premise that politics is downstream from culture, and that culture is downstream from religion or spirituality, then let us be aware that America has witnessed a barrage of “LGBT” activism through institutions that drive culture, directed through academia, media, entertainment, and corporate industries.

It is, therefore, unsurprising to learn that nearly 16 percent of American youth aged 18 to 23 in 2020 considered themselves “something other than heterosexual,” according to a Gallup poll, compared to only 2 percent or less fellow citizens born before 1965.

Furthermore, as expressed in a previous article with backed studies, a changing environment tarnished by synthetic chemicals can alter fetal brain development, forming the basis of baby boys and girls who grow up feeling sexually attracted to the same sex or even desiring to be the opposite sex—hence, “transgender” or “transsexual.”

As such, research indicates that:

[E]ndocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) from pthalates—chemicals mimicking the female hormone estrogen—can have feminizing effects on the developing brain of male fetuses. When exposed to high levels of pthalates in the womb, baby boys were more likely to be born with small testicles, small penises, and less likely to play with cars, trains and guns or engage in games like playfighting.”

Furthermore, as another article supported by medical research literature indicates, the human brain plays an essential role in determining the sex one identifies with from an early age. A study focused on adolescents suggests that brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of young people who identify as “transgender” or “transsexual” are more likely to resemble the sex they want to embody.

Therefore, it is this author’s opinion that:

“[p]eople who feel like or perceive themselves as the opposite sex deserve compassionate support and empathy. Still, their condition must not be recklessly projected into the mainstream public sphere, into the lives of children, and treated as though it is normative or even ‘cool.’”

Let us wear the armor shield of awareness: that of the destructive attitudes towards raising healthy children, and instill in them the knowledge and ability to discern right from what feels so right, and from wrong.

We, the People, must grab and carry the torch of culture—because that culture is going to influence moral, social and political thought in the next generation.

Content syndicated from Dear Rest of America with permission

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Dear Rest Of America

Dear Rest Of America is a newsletter written by Cameron Keegan, who independently researches and writes about American politics, faith and culture affecting young people through a conservative disposition. To learn more, visit Dear Rest Of America and for questions, send an email to ckeeganan@substack.com

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