News (USA)

Lifeguard sues city because flying Pride flags violates his Christianity

Progress Pride Flag
Photo: Shutterstock

Just in time for Pride Month, a very well-paid evangelical Christian lifeguard is suing Los Angeles County over Pride flags.

Jeffrey Little, a longtime employee with the LA County Fire Department, which oversees lifeguards at LA county beaches, says the job’s requirement to raise the Progress Pride flag at his lifeguard station in June is an infringement of his religious rights.

“The views commonly associated with the Progress Pride flag on marriage, sex, and family are in direct conflict with Captain Little’s bona fide and sincerely held religious beliefs on the same subjects,” says the suit filed in federal court last week.

LA County supervisors voted last year to fly the Progress Pride flag at public buildings during Pride Month. That requirement included lifeguard facilities at the Will Rogers State Beach in Pacific Palisades, a favorite gathering spot for LGBTQ+ beachgoers. Little was routinely stationed there.

The 20-year veteran lifeguard then protested to supervisors that he didn’t want to raise the flag because it went against his religious beliefs. Supervisors sought to accommodate him by assigning him to stations that didn’t yet have the proper poles to raise the flag.

When Little arrived at one such facility, he found three Progress Pride flags flying.

“I was confused,” Little is quoted thinking in the suit, “why they were flying as I was under the impression that I would not have to deal with working in these conditions.”

Little took all the flags down.

That led to a direct order from his supervisor that the flags would be properly hoisted through Pride Month.

The next day, Little was suspended from his role with the department’s emergency incident investigative unit, according to the lawsuit. The lifeguard also claims he received a death threat that called him a “fascist pig” and threatened his children.

Ahead of Pride Month this year, Little says he again asked for accommodations so he wouldn’t have to work near the Pride flag, according to the suit. He claims that the county hasn’t “substantively engaged” with him, and that he was warned he would be subject “to discipline and eventual termination for failure to raise the Progress Pride flag.”

The fire department and three supervisors in the lifeguard division are named in the suit, which accuses the county of discrimination and trampling on Little’s religious freedom.

The complainant is seeking a “standing exemption” from raising the Pride flag and for damages for “severe emotional distress.”

Little earned $210,000 last year for his lifeguard work, according to publicly available salary records reported by the according to The Los Angeles Times.

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