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Teacher Wins In Court Over School’s Pronoun Rules

This article was originally published at StateOfUnion.org. Publications approved for syndication have permission to republish this article, such as Microsoft News, Yahoo News, Newsbreak, UltimateNewswire and others. To learn more about syndication opportunities, visit About Us.
Jessica Tapia

Jessica Tapia, a former Christian teacher, was dismissed for her refusal to use “preferred pronouns” or conceal students’ gender identities from their parents.

Jurupa Unified School District

She recently shared her story with Fox News following the settlement of $360,000 with her former employer, the Jurupa Unified School District in California.

Faith

She conveyed a message to fellow faith-based educators that “truth will win in the end.” The agreement was reached and officially concluded on Tuesday, approximately one year after Tapia filed her lawsuit in a federal court in California.

Spiritual warfare

Having been associated with the Jurupa Unified School District for over twenty years, initially as a student and later as a teacher and coach, Tapia informed Fox News Digital that “from the second that I was pulled into my first meeting with the district, I knew this was some serious spiritual warfare and just a battle on truth that we’re seeing across the nation, especially in education and in and around children.”

Unprofessional Conduct

The situation commenced on September 30, 2022, when the district issued Tapia a “Notice of Unprofessional Conduct,” citing California Education Code section 44938 and accusing her of unprofessional behavior. The lawsuit stated that the district made “twelve meritless allegations” against her.

Christian conservative views

Tapia informed Fox News Digital that students searched for her on social media and found personal information that was not discussed in class, including her strong Christian conservative views.

Values and beliefs

Despite not linking her personal social media account to the school district, some students disagreed with her values and beliefs that differed from theirs. Subsequently, these students reported about seven or eight specific posts from her “Jesus highlight” on Instagram to the district.

Reported immediately

“Once students found me on social media, they reported me immediately to the school district. The next day, I was pulled out of my class away from my students, never to return again,” Tapia told Fox News Digital. “I was placed on paid administrative leave, which then led to three various meetings at the school district office.”

Lawsuit

According to the lawsuit, the district accused Tapia of posting inappropriate content on her public Instagram account, discussing her faith with students, and expressing controversial views on gender identity issues.

Gender identity

In a subsequent meeting, the district presented Tapia with a “Plan of Assistance and Directives,” which mandated that she deceive parents about their children’s gender identity, use students’ preferred pronouns, avoid sharing her religious beliefs with students or on social media, and allow students to use facilities based on their preferred gender.

Beliefs

Tapia requested a religious accommodation, stating that she could not adhere to the directives as they conflicted with her beliefs.

Religious accommodation

During the third and final meeting in January 2023, which was focused on religious accommodation, Tapia recalled being extensively questioned about her Christian faith. Following this interrogation, the decision was made that her religious beliefs could not be accommodated, leading to her termination.

Transgender students

Tapia mentioned to Fox News Digital that no student had approached her requesting to identify with a different gender than listed on the class roster or seeking access to the girls’ locker room as a biological male. Therefore, the directives were based on hypothetical scenarios involving transgender students.

Sacrificing

Facing the loss of income, Tapia expressed concerns to Fox News Digital about the possibility of her family losing their home. However, she found solace in the Bible verse Matthew 10:39, which emphasizes the idea that sacrificing one’s life for a higher purpose leads to a greater fulfillment.

Taken control

“I could have saved my life. When I say life in this circumstance, I’m obviously meaning my teaching career, my salary; I could have saved it myself. I could have taken control of that. I could have saved it by just saying yes and bowing down to these directives,” Tapia said.

Julianne Fleischer

Julianne Fleischer, Tapia’s lawyer from Advocates for Faith & Freedom, a non-profit legal organization focused on religious freedom, mentioned to Fox News Digital that they took on the case in May 2023. Fleischer highlighted that Tapia had received no negative performance evaluations and consistently treated every student with respect.

Transgender policies

“And so, Jessica’s religious beliefs become second class to the school district’s ideology as it relates to transgender and transgender policies.”

Teacher of faith

“What the district has done and with this type of test, it essentially makes it so no teacher of faith is qualified to serve in a public school setting,” she added.

Cultural changes

She expressed her surprise at the societal and cultural changes, noting that government education appears to have adapted to these shifts.

Constitutional rights

Tapia has joined forces with Advocates for Faith & Freedom on a project called “Teachers Don’t Lie,” which aims to support teachers of faith in understanding their constitutional rights. She emphasized the importance of teachers being truthful to students, parents, and themselves.

God is in control

“But, you know, I chose to realize that, you know, God is in control. He’s in control of my life. And if I do lose my life or lose … my job in this situation, I don’t know how that’s going to look, but somehow God’s going to show me my life, or I’m going to find my life.”

True purpose

“I’m going to find my true purpose, by choosing Him, by choosing to stand in the truth here.”

Terminated

“The school district specifically terminated her because of her religious beliefs,” Fleischer said. “What we’re seeing with these types of directives at school districts across the nation as they’re implementing these different transgender policies and threatening teachers and educators with termination from their employment, is a type of religious test … because what they’re essentially saying is you need to ascribe to our own religion or you’re no longer qualified to serve as a public school teacher.”

Jurupa Valley High School

After graduating from Jurupa Valley High School in 2010, Tapia returned to the district where she felt like she was raised, serving as a teacher, coach, and lifeguard.

Policies

Tapia reflected on how different things would have been if the current school district policies were in place when she was a student, suggesting that she may not have been involved in the Bible study that her swim coach introduced her to during her teenage years in high school.

Respect

“These are our students, but they’re not our children. And so, we have to hold that … respect for parents; parental rights first and foremost, above anything, that’s their child,” Tapia told Fox News Digital.

Leave my beliefs

“I was being asked to leave my beliefs at the schoolhouse gate for the eight hours a day that I was there and just do … whatever they were asking me to do. You know, and that was a scary thought, too, because I’m like, ‘If this is what you’re asking me to do now, I know it’s not going to stop here.'”

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