FALLS CHURCH, Va. – A judge on Tuesday ordered a northern Virginia school system to reinstate a suspended gym teacher who spoke out at a school board meeting against a proposal requiring that transgender students be addressed by their preferred pronouns.
Loudoun County Circuit Court Judge James Plowman ruled that teacher Tanner Cross was exercising his right to free speech when he told the board he could not abide by the proposal based on his religious beliefs. His order requires Cross’ immediate reinstatement until a full trial can be held.
Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian legal group, sued the county school board last week and filed for an emergency injunction on behalf of Cross, a teacher at Leesburg Elementary.
Cross was suspended after he said at a May 25 school board meeting that he could not abide by proposed rules that would require teachers to address transgender students by their chosen gender.
Here’s what he said:
My name is Tanner Cross and I am speaking out of love for those who suffer with gender dysphoria. ‘60 Minutes’ this past Sunday interviewed over 30 young people who transitioned, but they felt led astray because lack of push back or how easy it was to make physical changes to their bodies in just three months. They are now detransitioning. It’s not my intent to hurt anyone, but there are certain truths that we must face when ready. We condemn school policies, like 8040 and 8035, because it would damage children and defile the holy image of God. I love all 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 is against my religion, it’s lying to a child, it’s abuse to a child, and it is sinning against our God.”Tanner Cross
The school board is considering the new regulations in conjunction with a state mandate requiring all school systems to update their policies on transgender students. The model regulations circulated by the state include a requirement that students be addressed by their preferred pronouns.
Stacy Haney, a lawyer representing the school system, said the state law gives the school board no leeway on implementing the policy and existing school board regulations already prohibit discrimination based on gender identity, which Haney said includes referring to transgender children by their preferred pronoun.