California gym teacher Jessica Tapia was fired from Jurupa United School District as of January 31, according to Fox News, which obtained and reviewed a copy of her termination notice signed by David Brooks, an assistant superintendent who oversees the human resources department.
"Based on your religious beliefs, you cannot be dishonest with parents,” the notice, signed by Brooks, openly states as a reason for firing her. “If asked about a student's gender identity by a parent, you cannot refer the parent to a counselor, defer the inquiry and suggest they speak with a student.”
The transgender-affirming policy affects more than 2,000 teachers and staff members, and 20,000 students, in Riverside County, California.
Tapia, who has filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, is being represented by Pacific Justice Institute in her lawsuit.
"The school wanted her to lie to parents if she ever had a child who was transgender,” PJI attorney Brad Dacus says. “And the parents didn't know about it.”
That claim from Dacus can hardly be disputed considering Tapia’s termination notice. Farther down in the notice, the assistant superintendent informs Tapia the school district “cannot accommodate your religious beliefs” which prohibit her from revealing a student’s “gender identity” to a parent or guardian.
Because she is a physical education teacher, Tapia also refused to obey a school district policy that allows biological boys to enter and change clothes in a girls-only locker room, according to Dacus.
"No teacher, with any kind of a reasonable conscience,” Dacus tells AFN, “would ever want to do these kinds of diabolical things.”
PJI is also alleging the school district engaged in a "witch hunt" against the Christian teacher, Dacus adds, since Tapia had never encountered a transgender student in her position as a gym teacher.
Thanks to the Fox News story, Jurupa United was forced to respond to the terminated teacher’s allegations. Much like the termination notice, the school district’s statement to Fox is a mixture of denials and admission:
The District denies the allegations raised by Ms. Tapia. The District takes seriously its obligation to accommodate its employee’s religious beliefs. Simultaneously, the District is obligated to comply with all local, state, and federal laws, including anti-discrimination laws and laws that protect students’ rights to privacy, which are in place to protect the nearly 2,500 employees and 18,000 students we serve. We cannot comment further on personnel matters
PJI and Tapia are now waiting for a right-to-sue letter from the EEOC before moving forward.
"She has a very strong case," he says. "We're very optimistic and are willing to take this case as far and as long we need to."