LA County FD tried to force Christian lifeguard to fly LGBTQ flag, retaliated against him when he refused: Lawsuit

A man who has spent more than two decades with the Los Angeles County Fire Department is now suing the agency after its leadership allegedly tried to force him to raise an LGBTQ flag at his lifeguard stand at Will Rogers Beach in Pacific Palisades and then retaliated against him when he refused to comply.

In March 2023, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution that requires all county-controlled buildings to fly a “Progress Pride Flag” during the month of June, sometimes referred to as Pride Month. Three months later, Jeffrey Little, an LACoFD captain lifeguard who has been with the agency for 22 years, requested an exemption from having to raise the flag at his lifeguard station because he is a Christian who holds traditional beliefs regarding gender, marriage, and the equality of all persons regardless of race, the Christian Post reported.

‘Just have someone else raise the flag.’

According to a statement from the Thomas More Society, a legal nonprofit representing Little, the LACoFD initially complied with Little’s request, assuring him that he would not have to hoist the flag personally or ensure that someone else raised it during the month of June in accordance with the county resolution.

That assurance was short-lived. On June 21, 2023, just two days after granting Little’s request, the department rescinded its agreement.

The department then allegedly subjected Little to harassment and retaliation because of his beliefs. One day after the accommodation was revoked, Division Chief Fernando Boiteux issued Little a direct order to raise the flag, according to a federal lawsuit filed on Little’s behalf late last month. “You are an LA County employee, that’s the only thing that matters,” Boiteux reportedly told Little. “Your religious beliefs do not matter.”

When Little still refused, he was allegedly removed from a background investigation unit at the department and later allegedly threatened with termination. He and his daughters even received death threats after someone from the department leaked his accommodation request to an unauthorized person, the TMS statement said.

With the lawsuit, Little is seeking reinstatement with the department’s investigation unit, compensation for lost wages and other damages, the removal of all negative statements on his permanent record in connection with the LGBTQ flag issue, and permanent assurance that he will never have to fly it.

TMS’ Paul Jonna believes the case is fairly cut and dry. “For a devout Christian to ask for an accommodation not to have to personally raise the flag is such an easy accommodation, such a simple solution: just have someone else raise the flag,” Jonna told the Christian Post. “Devout Christians need to have protections in place. There needs to be strong precedent in place protecting them, and the law already provides for that protection.”

The fire department declined requests for comment from the Post and the National Desk.

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