Loudoun County Schools appealing reinstatement of teacher following controversy over gender pronouns

Loudoun County Public Schools announced Friday that they plan to file an appeal of the Loudoun County Circuit Court's decision to reinstate a gym teacher who made controversial comments regarding the school district's gender pronoun policy.

The district says they disagree with the June 8 decision to reinstate Leesburg Elementary physical education teacher Byron Tanner Cross.

"Leesburg Elementary School and Loudoun County Public Schools experienced–and continue to experience–significant disruption since the May 25 School Board meeting during which Cross addressed the board," the district said in a statement. "Many students and parents at Leesburg Elementary have expressed fear, hurt and disappointment about coming to school." 

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Cross was placed on leave last week following a speech in which he told his school board he wouldn't "affirm that a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa," Fox News reported.

"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," he reportedly told the school board. "It's lying to a child, it's abuse to a child, and it's sinning against our God."

Cross had been referencing an LCPS policy that requires staff to use preferred pronouns. The district did not specify that Cross was placed on administrative leave because of the speech, however, in Friday's statement, officials said they are appealing the decision based on the desire to provide a "safe, welcoming, and affirming learning environment for all students." 

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Cross has been defended by the conservative Christian nonprofit group Alliance for Defending Freedom, who filed the lawsuit on his behalf. Earlier this week, the organization called his reinstatement a "massive victory for freedom of speech."

While the school district maintains Cross' right to free speech, they say the appeal is about protecting the rights of their students.  

"While LCPS respects the rights of public-school employees to free speech and free exercise of religion, those rights do not outweigh the rights of students to be educated in a supportive
and nurturing environment."