LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. (FOX 5 DC) - A big legal victory came Monday night for a Loudoun County teacher who opposed his local school board over how to refer to transgender students.
Leesburg Elementary School physical education teacher Tanner Cross was suspended from his job and put on paid leave after criticizing a then-proposed transgender policy in May.
Speaking at a school board meeting, Cross said he refused to follow a proposed policy that teacher must use preferred pronouns for students. In the speech, he told his school board he wouldn't "affirm that a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa," reported Fox News.
"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 reportedly told the school board.
Cross sued to get his job back. When a lower court agreed that his rights were violated and that the school district’s actions were likely unconstitutional, the Loudoun County School Board appealed that decision to the Virginia Supreme Court.
Monday night, the high court agreed lower court’s decision to temporarily reinstate Cross.
The school board eventually passed a version of the proposed policy discussed at the May 25 school board meeting which says all of the school district’s students and staff must refer to "gender-expansive or transgender" students using whatever gender pronoun is chosen by the student, regardless of whether the pronoun is consistent with the student’s biological sex.
"Many people have demonstrated a lack of understanding our trans-students, not just community members but many of our community members have a lack of understanding and I want to ensure all of our transgender students will be respected and affirmed when interacting with any of our staff in Loudoun County Public Schools," school board member Brenda Sheridan said.
Not all were in favor of the policy though, with it passing 7-2.
"This policy goes well beyond the states’ model policy. This policy is not needed.The policy does not solve the issues it’s purported to solve. The policy has forced our focus out of education and I will not support it," board member Jeffery Morse said.
Attorneys from Alliance for Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian nonprofit group, recently asked the trial court to allow them to amend their lawsuit to challenge that policy on behalf of three faculty members, now including Loudoun County High School history teacher Monica Gill and Smart’s Mill Middle School English teacher Kim Wright.
"Educators are just like everybody else—they have ideas and opinions that they should be free to express," said ADF President and CEO Michael Farris. "Advocating for solutions they believe in should not cost them their jobs. School officials singled out his speech, offered in his private capacity at a public meeting, as ‘disruptive’ and then suspended him for speaking his mind. That’s neither legal nor constitutional. Dozens of other teachers have shared their beliefs on various policies without retaliation; Tanner deserves to be treated with the same respect."
So far, there is no new trial date scheduled for the suit.