A California teacher, who lost her job after refusing to comply with a California district's gender policies, citing Christian beliefs, is blowing the whistle on the expectations she felt as a teacher to not only hide students' gender transitions from parents, but also to keep them in the dark through lying.
"I knew immediately, like in my gut, in my heart, in my soul, that there was a decision I had to make because, you know, these two things were totally butting heads," Jessica Tapias, who worked at the Jurupa Unified School District, told Fox News Digital. "I essentially had to pick one. Am I going to obey the district in the directive that are not lining up with… my own beliefs, convictions and faith? Or am I going to stay true…, choose my faith, choose to be obedient to… the way the Lord has called me to live. And so it was crazy to be in the position where I realized that I couldn't be a Christian and a teacher."
In a notice under Superintendent Trenton Hansen's letterhead, reviewed by Fox News Digital, the district said they couldn't accommodate Tapias' Christian beliefs which prohibited her from withholding information on gender transitions from kids' parents.
"Consequentially, the District will release you from your employment effective at the end of the day on January 31, 2023," the notice said.
"Based on your religious beliefs, you cannot be dishonest with parents... 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..., or otherwise deflect the parent's inquiry," the letter, signed by assistant superintendent of human resources, Daniel Brooks, said.
"The district cannot accommodate your religious beliefs that... prohibit you from maintaining a student's gender identity and refraining from disclosing a student's gender identity from his/her/their parent(s)/guardians," it continued.
Tapias said, "According to my school district, students have privacy. And so if a student shares information regarding a pronoun preference or thinking there may be the opposite gender of what they biologically are, if they share that information with a teacher, we are supposed to keep that info from parents in case the parent doesn't know."
"And there's so many issues with that. How do we know the parent doesn't know? Number two, …we're talking [about] 12, 13, 14, 15-year-olds. I don't believe [kids] should have this "privacy" to where their parents are being left in the dark about some very pertinent information about their well-being."
Tapias, as a physical education teacher, also refused to allow "male genitals" in the girls' locker room, in opposition of district policy.
"I don't believe in my faith that that's how God's calling us to love by affirming those lies and confusion," Tapias said. "I believe firmly that God created man and woman, and you are who he made you to be. And when someone has confusion about that, I believe that's lies and confusion from the devil."
Tapias said she originally went into teaching because she loved the idea of helping and supporting kids.
"The biggest reason was to make an impact," she said. "I thought how amazing it would be to be a light to [kids] possibly coming from very rough homes like I did when I was a child. And so it was just so exciting for them to get to work in a field where it was just way beyond a paycheck, [where I would be] able to make a difference in a way that was priceless on young lives."
She added, "We're talking about children. This is a very moldable time in life… [when] the brain is developing and it's so important that you have… good people to look up to, good models in your life, good teaching."
In a statement to Fox News Digital, the district denied that it discriminated against Tapias based on her religious beliefs.
"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," the statement reads.
When Fox News Digital asked about the accusation outlined by Tapias that educators should lie to parents about students' gender identities, they did not directly respond.
"The District is required to comply with all state and federal laws, including the California Education Code which guarantees a student’s right to participate in sex-segregated school activities and to use facilities consistent with the student’s gender identity, regardless of the gender listed on the student’s records," they told Fox News Digital. "The District is also obligated to protect a student’s right to privacy which is guaranteed by state and federal antidiscrimination laws and the California Constitution. The District will continue to protect the rights of all students and staff as required by law."
Tapias said she has retained an attorney, and intends to sue. "We are waiting for a right to sue letter from the [U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission], and then we will proceed from there."