Christian lifeguard sues LA County Fire Department over LGBT pride flag mandate

Captain Jeffrey Little, above, is suing the Los Angeles Fire Department and others for religious discrimination after he was allegedly punished for declining to fly a Pride flag at his firehouse.
Captain Jeffrey Little, above, is suing the Los Angeles Fire Department and others for religious discrimination after he was allegedly punished for declining to fly a Pride flag at his firehouse. | Credit: Thomas More Society

An Evangelical Christian lifeguard is suing the Los Angeles County Fire Department, claiming religious discrimination after he was allegedly punished for refusing to fly an LGBT pride flag at his beachside lifeguard facility last summer.

Jeffrey Little, who has served Los Angeles County for 22 years, declined to hoist the Progress Pride flag at his lifeguard facility in Pacific Palisades at Will Rogers Beach, which includes a stretch called Ginger Rogers Beach that is frequented by the gay community.

In March 2023, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution mandating that all county-operated facilities fly the Progress Pride flag during June. This would include lifeguard facilities because they fall under LACoFD jurisdiction.

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The Progress Pride flag features the traditional rainbow design of the pride flag but also includes additional stripes representing black, Latino and transgender-identifying individuals.

According to the complaint filed May 24 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the LACoFD first granted Little's request for a religious accommodation to the flag mandate on June 19, 2023, but rescinded it two days later, on June 21.

Little requested the exemption 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," according to the complaint.

"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," the suit added.

Little was subsequently subjected to retaliation and harassment when his supervising officers demanded that he raise the Progress Pride flag despite his Christian convictions, the complaint further alleges.

"You are an LA County employee, that's the only thing that matters," Division Chief Fernando Boiteux allegedly told him. "Your religious beliefs do not matter."

Little was also allegedly taken off his role in the LACoFD's background investigation unit, and someone in the Department informed unauthorized people about his religious accommodation request. After news of his request leaked, Little and his two daughters were targeted with a death threat, the complaint said.

Attorneys from the nonprofit Thomas More Society representing Little allege violations of his rights under the First Amendment and federal and state law.

The LACoFD declined to comment on the case, telling CP it cannot comment on personnel issues or any ongoing litigation.

Attorney Paul Jonna, who represents Little, told The Christian Post that he hopes Little's case will set a precedent by which other Christians who object to such displays can be protected.

"I think we're seeing employers across the country — but especially here in southern California with Los Angeles County's directives — that are not only having the government promote the pride flag, have the pride flag flown, but now they're forcing certain employees to handle the flag and raise the flag," Jonna said.

"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," he said. "Just have someone else raise the flag. 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."

Jon Brown is a reporter for The Christian Post. Send news tips to

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