Christian lifeguard sues Los Angeles over his disagreement with working near a Pride flag

A Christian lifeguard in Los Angeles who took down three Pride flags and asked not to work near any of the hanging flags for last year’s Pride month has claimed he has been religiously discriminated against.

Jeffery Little, a devout evangelical Christian who has worked for Los Angeles County for more than 22 years, filed a lawsuit on Friday claiming that he took down three Pride flags that were hoisted in support of LGBTQ+ residents because he did not want to work “in these conditions.”

He said in the suit, obtained by the Los Angeles Times, that after this, he was suspended from his role with the department’s background investigation unit, which investigates emergencies on the beach and also received a death threat after he took down the flags.

Mr Little is being represented by attorneys from the Thomas More Society, which the outlet describes as a conservative Catholic legal group that has, in the past, worked on lawsuits against abortion rights and same-sex marriage.

As Pride month approaches in the United States in June, which is a time dedicated to celebrating and commemorating LGBTQ+ pride and honoring the 1969 Stonewall uprisings, many local jurisdictions will support their LGBTQ+ residents by organizing events or hoisting Pride flags.

For last year’s Pride, the county board of supervisors voted to require government buildings to fly the Progress Pride flag throughout the month, including on lifeguard facilities.

This included Will Rogers Beach, that includes a historically LGBTQ+ friendly strip of the beach that has been given the name ‘Ginger Rogers Beach’ and has been a refuge and a safe haven for members of the LGBTQ+ community for decades, the county’s fire department stated, who oversees the lifeguards.

Mr Little, a captain with the county’s lifeguard division, however, told officials last June that he wanted to be exempt from raising the Pride flag because he “adheres to traditional Christian beliefs regarding the moral illicitness of same-sex activity, the immutability of sex regardless of gender identity, and the view that all people are children of God regardless of their skin color”, he reportedly stated in the lawsuit, the outlet said.

He added that the views the Progress Pride flag represented were in “direct conflict” with religious beliefs.

The county officials last summer allegedly came to an agreement with Mr Little and said he could be stationed in areas of the Pacific Palisades where the flags were not flown because they did not have the right flag poles, the outlet said.

When Mr Little arrived on Dockweiler Beach on 21 June, one of the areas he alleged was not supposed to have the Pride flag, he said he found the flag hoisted at three nearby facilities, ordered by a chief to be flown, according to the complaint obtained by the outlet.

According to the suit, Mr Little proceeded to take down the flags with the permission of the Ocean Lifeguard Specialists at his station.

The following day, he was given a “direct order” to ensure the Pride flag was flown throughout June by Fernando Boiteux, the chief of the lifeguard division.

The lifeguard claims he has been the subject of “religious discrimination” and “retaliation” by fire officials, among other allegations, during and after lowering the flags, as well as telling them he did not want to work near the Pride flags.

Mr Little has asked again this summer that he has accommodations to not work near a Pride flag, but reportedly claims in his lawsuit that the county has not “substantively engaged” with him and has warned him he would be subject “to discipline and eventual termination for failure to raise the Progress Pride flag.”

The lifeguard is asking the judge for damages due to a claimed “severe emotional distress,” among other items, as well as asking them to order the county to give him a “standing exemption” from raising the Pride flag.

Pride representation in the Pacific Palisades also made headlines last year after two lifeguard towers were painted in Pride colors in celebration of Pride month on Ginger Rogers Beach.

The painting of the towers and placard installation celebrates the historic beach, the LGBTQ+ community, and honors its advocates and leaders,” the LA County Fire Department wrote in a release at the time.

However, days after they were unveiled, the LAPD launched a hate crime investigation after the towers had been vandalised, leaving both residents and tourists in shock and disappointment with the vandalism.

The Independent has contacted the Los Angeles County Fire Department and an attorney for Mr Little for comment.

  • For more: Elrisala website and for social follow us on Facebook
  • Source of information and images “independent

Related Articles

Back to top button