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

10 Juin, 2021, 02:08 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Loudoun County School Board meeting video screenshot

The court instructed Loudoun County Public Schools to "immediately reinstate" Mr Cross and rescind its ban barring him from school grounds while his lawsuit goes forward.

"LCPS staff shall allow gender-expansive or transgender students to use their chosen name and gender pronouns that reflect their gender identity without any substantiating evidence, regardless of the name and gender recorded in the student's permanent educational record", a draft of the policy explains. Plowman Jr.'s order, effective through December 31, found the board violated Cross's free speech and free exercise of religion rights.

Cross sparked an uproar last month when he told LCPS' school board that he wouldn't "affirm that a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa because it's against my religion".

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

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.

In a letter Tuesday, Twelfth Circuit Judge James E. Plowman ordered LCPS to restore Cross' position as a physical education teacher at Leesburg Elementary School.

Judge Plowman added that "it is clear the plaintiff was speaking as a citizen, not in his official capacity", on a "matter of public concern".

Elementary school teacher Byron "Tanner" Cross was suspended May 27 after briefly speaking against a proposal to require teachers in the Northern Virginia public school system to address students by their preferred pronouns, rather than only by those indicating male or female gender.

Cross's attorney argued it was his client's right under the First Amendment of the Constitution to express his views at the public meeting.

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"My kids know I'm transgender, and many of our friends are transgender", Cris Candice Tuck, a trans parent of a 6-year-old son in Loudon, told the outlet.

"Nobody should be punished for expressing concern about a proposed government policy, especially when the government invites comment on that policy", stated Michael Farris, president and CEO of the legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented Cross.

"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", Farris said.

Cross believes using someone's preferred pronouns can "damage" them and "defile the holy image of God".

"Dozens of other teachers have shared their beliefs on various policies without retaliation; Tanner deserves to be treated with the same respect", the ADF president concluded.

Cross told the school board meeting on 25 May that he would not follow the policies because they oppose his religious beliefs.

Not only was Cross suspended for participating in a public event, but he was penalized with more than employment suspension, including the school board restricting him from school property.

"The Court agrees with Plaintiff's analysis and concludes that Defendants' actions to suspend the Plaintiff, as well as the additional restrictions placed upon him, adversely affected his constitutionally protected speech", wrote the judge.


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