A teacher in the northern Virginia suburbs was reinstated by a judge, after the school district suspended him for criticizing the systems’ preferred pronoun policy.
Byron “Tanner” Cross went viral when he went before the Loudoun County Public Schools board and publicly stated he would not adhere to the policy. At a public meeting, Cross said, “I’m a teacher, but I serve God first.” “I will not affirm that a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa because it’s against my religion,” he said, “It’s lying to a child, it’s abuse to a child and it’s sinning against our God.”
Afterwards, Cross was removed from his job by his principal at Leesburg Elementary School over the fear of parents’ outcry. The school system also claimed that they received five parent complaints to remove their child from Cross’s class.
Virginia Circuit Court Judge James Plowman, Jr. granted Cross a temporary injunction because Cross’s free speech and religious liberty rights are at the crux of the case. A religious freedom defense group representing Cross, Alliance Defending Freedom, called the ruling “A massive victory for freedom of speech.”
The Loudoun County Public Schools said that it “respectfully disagrees” with the decision and it will appeal the case to the state Supreme Court. They claimed, “Many students and parents at Leesburg Elementary have expressed fear, hurt and disappointment about coming to school.” It added that the rights of employees “do not outweigh the rights of students to be educated in a supportive and nurturing environment.”
The preferred pronoun policy mandated that employees should call students by their preferred, non-gender name. For example, if a student’s legal name is James, but wanted to be called Jane, a teacher would have to comply.
Loudoun County Public Schools are located in northern Virginia, in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. It is one of the wealthiest suburbs in the region and has shifted from a politically-red area to a politically-blue area in recent election cycles.