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CA Teacher Fired for Refusing to Keep Secrets Receives $360k Settlement

The public school teacher who was fired for refusing to hide her students’ gender identities from their parents because of her Christian beliefs reached a settlement agreement with Jurupa Unified School District in Riverside County last week, Advocates for Faith and Freedom announced.

In early 2023, Jessica Tapia refused to abide by her school district’s new policy, which prohibits school staff from sharing students’ gender identities with parents without first consulting the student because doing so would “violate California’s anti-discrimination law by increasing the student’s vulnerability to harassment and may violate the student’s right to privacy.”

Jessica said that she was expected to lie to parents about their children’s preferred pronouns, which she could not do because of her strong religious convictions. The school district sent her a notice informing her that she had been fired due to her religious beliefs. 

“The fact of the matter [is] that as Christians, we can also be in the public sector. And at this point, I feel that I was told you need to choose one or the other. Do you want to be a public school teacher or do you want to continue practicing your Christian faith?” Jessica said. “So I chose God. I chose to stick with my Christian faith. And because of that, they released me from employment because, in their words, ‘they could not accommodate my religious beliefs.’”

Last week, Jessica’s settlement agreement with Jurupa Unified School District was announced. In exchange for Jessica no longer seeking employment within the district, JUSD agreed to a payout of $285,000 along with $75,000 in attorney fees. The settlement also included an agreement from both parties to not pursue additional litigation.

“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,” Advocates for Faith and Freedom Legal Counsel Julianne Fleischer said. She also noted that this case serves as “a reminder that religious freedom is protected, no matter your career.”

“This announcement represents a victory for religious freedom in the public sector,” said Sophia Lorey, Outreach Director of the California Family Council. “Although we did not see Jessica’s case won in a court of law, and compromises were made in the settlement, we know that JUSD and all other California school districts can see the truth and know the danger of what will happen if they again violate a teacher’s fundamental, constitutional rights. We will continue to stand up for public school teachers and anyone in the public sector who chooses to stand by their Christian beliefs in the face of persecution.”


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