Teacher Fired for Biblical Beliefs Gains Partial Win

Teacher Fired for Biblical Beliefs Gains Partial Win

The Jurupa Unified School District in California agreed to pay a Christian teacher $360,000 in a settlement after she was fired for refusing to use pronouns that do not correlate to students’ biological sex. However, as part of the settlement, she cannot seek future employment with the Jurupa district.

Her case reveals the ideological hostility that awaits many educators as school districts across the nation grapple with gender politics, and faithful teachers seek to defend their constitutional rights of conscience and religious belief.

Jessica Tapia, a former high school teacher at Jurupa Valley High School, was fired in January of last year over posts on her personal Instagram account that expressed her Christian faith and other associated beliefs, which students as well as the district called racist, offensive, disrespectful and transphobic.

Tapia had a glowing reputation as an employee of the school district, and reportedly was loved by students and parents. She did not force her beliefs on her students, but would answer questions about her faith when asked. She had never been asked to use any specific student’s preferred pronouns, and it had never been an issue until the district learned of her beliefs through social media.

The district then demanded she refer to students with their preferred pronouns, stop sharing her beliefs on social media and refrain from talking about the Bible with her students. She refused to comply with the directives, and the district provided no religious accommodations and fired her.

Advocates for Faith and Freedom (AFF), representing Tapia, filed suit against the school district in May 2023. The settlement reached last week has the district paying Tapia $285,000 in damages and $75,000 in attorneys’ fees in exchange for her no longer seeking employment with the district.

“Today’s settlement serves as a reminder that religious freedom is protected, no matter your career,” said Julianne Fleischer, legal counsel for AFF. “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.”

Tapia said, “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. 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.”

Photo: Screenshot / Seth Gruber / YouTube

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