A Loudoun County, Virginia, elementary school teacher who was placed on administrative leave in May for refusing to affirm transgender identity in children was reinstated by a judge Tuesday after the judge ruled the school’s response was “vindictive.”
Byron “Tanner” Cross, a physical education teacher at Leesburg Elementary School, secured a temporary injunction from Judge James Plowman in his lawsuit against Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS), according to an announcement from Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which defended him.
“BREAKING: Tanner Cross, a Virginia elementary school teacher and ADF client who was suspended for raising concerns to the board about a proposed gender policy, has won a temporary injunction and the judge has ordered his reinstatement,” ADF tweeted, calling the decision a “massive victory for freedom of speech.”
Local WTOP reporter Neal Augenstein reported that Plowman found the “school system’s suspension was unconstitutional” and its handling of the situation was “vindictive.”
The school argued that it suspended Cross not for his beliefs but because of the “disruption” he allegedly caused, but Plowman said there was “simply an absence of evidence” that any disruption to school operations took place.
Cross retained the legal counsel of ADF after he made national news for his speech to the school board regarding its proposed policies governing the gender identity of students.
Citing his Christian faith, Cross asserted that he would not be conforming to any school district policy that demands LCPS staff use preferred pronouns and “allow gender-expansive and transgender students to participate in such activities in a manner consistent with the student’s gender identity.”
“I love all of my students but I will never lie to them regardless of the consequences. I’m a teacher but I serve God first and I will not affirm that a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa because it’s against my religion, it’s lying to a child, it’s abuse to a child, and it’s sinning against our God,” Cross said in part.
According to Fox News, Cross was placed on leave from Leesburg Elementary School two days after his statement. Shortly thereafter he sued the school district and was represented by ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer.
“Public schools have no business compelling teachers to express ideological beliefs that they don’t hold, nor do they have the right to suspend someone simply for respectfully providing their opinion at a public meeting,” Langhofer said.
“The school district favors a certain set of beliefs on a hotly contested issue, and it wants to force Tanner to cry uncle and endorse them as well. That’s neither legal nor constitutional, and neither was the school’s move to place Tanner on leave.”
ADF further stated, “The bottom line is that the school district can’t use teachers as a mouthpiece to promote a political agenda that violates their beliefs. But that is exactly what it is trying to do. And when Tanner used his constitutional right to speak up against the policy, officials punished him, propping him up as an example and sending the message that teachers must toe the ideological line or face the consequences.”
ADF continued, “It must stop… There’s a lot at stake.”
Author: William Hedgegon