California teacher awarded $360,000 after being fired for refusing to call student their preferred pronouns

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By Asiya Ali

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A California teacher will receive $360,000 after being fired for allegedly refusing to use students' "preferred pronouns" or hide students' gender identities from their parents.

Jessica Tapia attended Jurupa Valley High School and had been a district employee since 2014 before becoming the high school’s physical education teacher in 2021, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.

According to her lawsuit, the former teacher was placed on paid administrative leave in 2022 after “some issues had been brought to the District’s attention regarding her personal social media posts,” per The Press Enterprise.

Tapia disclosed to Fox News Digital that students looked her up on social media and "discovered things that I don't discuss in class," and noticed that she’s an "outspoken Christian conservative".

In the aftermath of her suspension, the district allegedly sent Tapia a Notice of Unprofessional Conduct and presented her with "A Plan of Assistance and Directives" for the following school year, per Daily Mail.

Per the lawsuit, the former student was told to withhold students’ transgender identities from parents, refer to students by their preferred gender pronouns, and not share her religious beliefs on social media or discuss them with students.

These orders "caused Ms. Tapia 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 for,” as cited in the filing.

Tapia claimed in her Fox interview that a student has never asked to be identified by their pronouns or use a different locker room, so the investigation was based on how she "would hypothetically handle a situation with a transgender student if I were to ever have one".

The physical education teacher was fired from the Jurupa Unified School District. Credit: Burak Sür / Getty

The Jurupa Unified School District did not admit to any wrongdoing in the case, but agreed to pay the ex-teacher $285,000, as well as $75,000 for her attorneys’ fees, as noted in the settlement agreement.

Furthermore, Tapia agreed not to seek future employment with the district, and both parties agreed not to file additional lawsuits and disparage each other in the media.

Julianne Fleischer, one of the former teacher's attorneys, said the settlement was an “incredible victory," adding: “Her religious beliefs were not accommodated when they could have been," per Los Angeles Times.

The legal counsel for Advocates for Faith & Freedom added: “We think it sends a strong message that there’s a price to pay when you ask a teacher to lie and withhold information.”

The California teacher will receive $360,000 after being fired. Credit: Sshepard / Getty

Jacquie Paul, a Jurupa Unified spokesperson, also spoke out and said the settlement was a “compromise of a disputed claim," as reported by the outlet.

“The decision to settle this case was made... in the best interest of the students, such that the district can continue to dedicate all of its resources and efforts to educate and support its student population regardless of their protected class,” he shared in a statement.

Featured image credit: Nora Carol Photography / Getty

California teacher awarded $360,000 after being fired for refusing to call student their preferred pronouns

vt-author-image

By Asiya Ali

Article saved!Article saved!

A California teacher will receive $360,000 after being fired for allegedly refusing to use students' "preferred pronouns" or hide students' gender identities from their parents.

Jessica Tapia attended Jurupa Valley High School and had been a district employee since 2014 before becoming the high school’s physical education teacher in 2021, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.

According to her lawsuit, the former teacher was placed on paid administrative leave in 2022 after “some issues had been brought to the District’s attention regarding her personal social media posts,” per The Press Enterprise.

Tapia disclosed to Fox News Digital that students looked her up on social media and "discovered things that I don't discuss in class," and noticed that she’s an "outspoken Christian conservative".

In the aftermath of her suspension, the district allegedly sent Tapia a Notice of Unprofessional Conduct and presented her with "A Plan of Assistance and Directives" for the following school year, per Daily Mail.

Per the lawsuit, the former student was told to withhold students’ transgender identities from parents, refer to students by their preferred gender pronouns, and not share her religious beliefs on social media or discuss them with students.

These orders "caused Ms. Tapia 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 for,” as cited in the filing.

Tapia claimed in her Fox interview that a student has never asked to be identified by their pronouns or use a different locker room, so the investigation was based on how she "would hypothetically handle a situation with a transgender student if I were to ever have one".

The physical education teacher was fired from the Jurupa Unified School District. Credit: Burak Sür / Getty

The Jurupa Unified School District did not admit to any wrongdoing in the case, but agreed to pay the ex-teacher $285,000, as well as $75,000 for her attorneys’ fees, as noted in the settlement agreement.

Furthermore, Tapia agreed not to seek future employment with the district, and both parties agreed not to file additional lawsuits and disparage each other in the media.

Julianne Fleischer, one of the former teacher's attorneys, said the settlement was an “incredible victory," adding: “Her religious beliefs were not accommodated when they could have been," per Los Angeles Times.

The legal counsel for Advocates for Faith & Freedom added: “We think it sends a strong message that there’s a price to pay when you ask a teacher to lie and withhold information.”

The California teacher will receive $360,000 after being fired. Credit: Sshepard / Getty

Jacquie Paul, a Jurupa Unified spokesperson, also spoke out and said the settlement was a “compromise of a disputed claim," as reported by the outlet.

“The decision to settle this case was made... in the best interest of the students, such that the district can continue to dedicate all of its resources and efforts to educate and support its student population regardless of their protected class,” he shared in a statement.

Featured image credit: Nora Carol Photography / Getty