Teacher gets job back despite refusal to use students’ preferred pronouns

Loudoun County School Board meeting video screenshot

Loudoun County School Board meeting video screenshot

The organization representing Tanner Cross praised Tuesday's decision, which required Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) to end the suspension it imposed on him after he made controversial comments about gender.

The policies require all district staff to use a student's preferred gender pronouns and permitted transgender students to participate in activities consistent with their gender identity, rather than their biological sex.

Mr Cross was put on paid administrative leave starting 27 May and was banned from entering the school campus or addressing board meetings.

In an order released Tuesday, Judge James E. Plowman of the 20th Judicial Circuit of Virginia granted Cross' request for a temporary injunction against the school board's decision to place him on leave, which will expire in December.

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"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 added.

He continued: "LCPS should not require me to violate my conscience and lie to my students".

In response, Cross filed a lawsuit against the school board and other school district officials, accusing them of engaging in "viewpoint-based retaliation".

While school districts across the country may seek to enforce transgender ideology, this ruling sends a clear message that school districts can not retaliate against employees who voice their disagreement with transgenderism.

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"Plaintiff first contends that his suspension was an act of retaliation following his exercise of his rights to free speech in that, 1) his speech was constitutionally protected, 2) the Defendants' retaliatory action adversely affected the Plaintiff's constitutionally protected speech, and 3) there was a causal relationship between the speech and the action".

"Here, it was clear that the Plaintiff was speaking as a citizen, not in his official capacity. When I spoke, I was thinking about my values, my students, my parents, and my fellow teachers".

Mike Farris, ADF's president, hailed the decision, saying in a statement on June 8: "Nobody should be punished for expressing concern about a proposed government policy, especially when the government invites comment on that policy". This lawsuit was over whether public school could punish teachers for objecting to proposed policies as a private citizen in "a forum designed for the goal of considering whether to implement such policies, where the policy would force him to express ideas about human nature, unrelated to the school's curriculum, that he believes are false", said his complaint.

Cross believes using someone's preferred pronouns can "damage" them and "defile the holy image of God". Cross was forbidden from accessing school property and attending school-sponsored events. That's neither legal nor constitutional. The temporary injunction will allow Cross to maintain his job until December 31, at which point the injunction will dissolve unless other orders are put in place. "Dozens of other teachers have shared their beliefs on various policies without retaliation; Tanner deserves to be treated with the same respect".

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Cross also claimed that five school-district employees wished to speak up on the pronoun issue but said they declined to do so, due to the district's action against him.

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