Accueil SociétéAmérique United States | California: Jurupa School District To Pay $360K To Gym Teacher Fired For Not Following Gender-Related Policies

United States | California: Jurupa School District To Pay $360K To Gym Teacher Fired For Not Following Gender-Related Policies

An agreement was reached to resolve a lawsuit filed in 2023 by a former gym teacher who was accused and fired for “disregarding the district’s gender-identity policies.”

Par panorama papers
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By David Newman

The complaint was filed in Southern California. The Jurupa Unified School District has agreed to pay Jessica Tapia $285,000, in addition to her legal fees of $75,000, as part of a $360,000 settlement.

After Tapia was fired from the school district in January 2023 for refusing to implement multiple orders pertaining to children who identify as transgender, the lawsuit maintained that she was being discriminated against for her religious beliefs.

Referring to kids by their “preferred pronouns,” letting them use restrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identification and not biological sex, and abstaining from discussing religion on social media were among the guidelines.

“The Jurupa Unified School District said in a statement that the decision to settle the case was made ‘in the best interest of the students,’ so the district ‘can continue to dedicate all of its resources and efforts to educate and support its student population regardless of their protected class,’”

NBC News reported.

On Tuesday, the settlement was finalized. The district further stated that it “has not admitted any fault or wrongdoing” and “continues to deny any illegal action or discrimination against Ms. Tapia.”

The complaint was brought in May 2023 on Tapia’s behalf by Advocates for Faith & Freedom, a nonprofit legal organization dedicated to “protecting constitutional and religious liberty in the courts.” According to the group, Tapia was unlawfully fired due to her religious convictions.

“People of faith should be allowed to maintain their personal beliefs without fear of losing their job,” said Mariah Gondeiro, vice president of the group. “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.”

Another woman, Julianne Fleischer, who serves on the legal counsel for Advocates for Faith & Freedom, said that the settlement “serves as a reminder that religious freedom is protected, no matter your career.”

However, Tapia is now prohibited by the settlement agreement from looking for work in the district.

“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.

Tapia was a part of the school for more than 20 years, according to the complaint. After graduating from Jurupa Valley High School, she worked for the district as a physical education teacher.

In September 2022, Tapia met with district representatives and was given a notice of unprofessional conduct. The notice contained 12 allegations against Tapia, including that she had “posted offensive content on her public Instagram account,” in regards to her Christian social media posts, and “expressed controversial opinions on issues pertaining to gender identity.”

However, Tapia did not even identify herself as a teacher or an employee of the district on her social media page, according to the complaint.

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