Assemblyman Bill Essayli (R) says high school teacher Jessica Tapia found herself in the crosshairs of California's anti-discrimination law, which the state Department of Education says allows students to secretly transition gender identities at school.
"She was fired because she indicated that she wanted a religious exemption from this policy -- that she was not willing to keep or conceal information from parents, and it would violate her religious beliefs," Essayli details.
In response, he and Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher have introduced Assembly Bill 1314, a bill to protect the rights of parents to know what is going on with their children at school. It also aims to protect teachers' religious beliefs.
"It's the right thing to do, and honestly, I shouldn't have to do this," Essayli says. "We shouldn't have these rules in these schools, but the schools are frankly out of control. They are injecting politics and implementing a political ideology on campuses, and they do not want to listen to the parents, the school boards, or listen to the people they represent. They are just adamant in advancing this."
He says his bill makes sense.
"Parents are responsible for every consideration of kids -- their health, their safety, their welfare -- and they need to be informed of what's going on with their kids so they can act in their best interests," the assemblyman asserts. "We cannot keep parents in the dark."
Essayli recognizes that selling the bill to the liberal Assembly will not be easy, but he says parents can help by urging their lawmakers to support the effort.